InnerFidelity July Update

Amp Measurements
If you're as sick of hearing me say I'm working on them as I am of saying they're not done yet, you'll be happy to know I've been making some serious headway on amp measurements. Well, that's not quite right: we have been making some headway. Local Head-Fi member NA Blur (Brian) is a laser engineer by day, but an avid headphone geek otherwise, and has volunteered to help me with the amplifier measurement routines. It will take both he and I a little time to start making headway as we sort through the task, but he's got lots of experience programming instruments in the same language as the Audio Precision uses. I've got about half the tests running, and between the two of us I'm thinking we'll have a working unbalanced headphone amp test running within a couple of months. Keep your fingers crossed.

Headphones Measured
Didn't do an update last month so quite a few new measurements to post up this month. Updated a new AllGraphs.pdf of course, and added the cans to the measurement datasheets page. New additions include:

  • If you've been reading along you'll know the B&W P3, SOL Republic Tracks, and a bunch of noise canceling headphones were reviewed and measured. Noise cancelers added to measurements included: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9; PSB M4U 2; Bose Quiet Comfort 15; Klipsch Mode M-40; and the very good sounding Polk Ultrafocus 8000.
  • Finally got my hands on the Aiaiai headphones (thanks HeadRoom). Measured both the TMA-1 and TMA-1 Studio. They're a little mid-range centric and better than I expected. My expectations were really low mind you, these were a little better than average.
  • HeadRoom also sent over a bunch of mid-range Sennheiser headphones, which all measured competently for their price and type. Models were: HD 219, HD 229, HD 419, HD 429, HD 439, and HD 449.
  • I also got to run the new Sennheiser HD 700 through the ringer. They sounded and measured a bit bright and zingy to me. I'll try to get my hands on one for a longer term listen.
  • Mr. Speakers sent one of his Mad Dog modified Fostex T50RP headphones in for a measure and a listen. While certainly better than most modded T50RPs, they sounded a tad dry relative to the lush smoothness of LFF's Paradox or the Smeggy Thunderpants.
  • Speaking of Fostex, I've gotten a TH-900 in for measurements and it seemed quite a bit better than the one I heard at RMAF last year. It's still a "u" shaped sounding headphone, but it's not as aggressive sounding as I remember, and the bass is pretty happening. I think I'm going to try to drum one up for a review.
  • Another can that might get a review is the Focal Spirit One. This is another one of those slightly warm cans that might work well with portable players.
  • This last one is the big surprise: the Noontec Zoro. An obvious knock-off of the Beats Solo, the Zoro manages what the Solo doesn't and gets the sound surprisingly right for a $99 headphone.

I've mentioned progress on amp measurements and a possible look at the Focal, but the review I'm chomping at the bit to do is the latest Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3 I've recently received. Yumminess abundant!

And that surprise review I told you about just before I left for New York ... well it's coming. You won't believe it, but it'll be fun for the holiday.

Have a happy Fourth of July! (Throw the firecracker, not the lighter!)

Willakan's picture

Is that an O2 I see resting atop your analyser :D? Great to see progress on the amp measurements, and looking forward to your insights regarding the latest Audeze 'phones as well.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Yes, it's an O2, and it has indeed measured better than the other amps I've played with so far.
inarc's picture
Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks! Fixt!

Just want to thank folks who point out these mistakes. It's not easy doing this all by yourself and blunders are unavoidable ... especially when you're a bit of a dolt like me. So thanks for keeping an eye on things and letting me know when there's a mistake to correct.

NA BLur's picture

There are myriad headphone amps out there and it will be a tremendous benefit to have some baseline measurements on them done. Tyll and I plan on developing an amp testing routine much like Tyll's current headphone graph generation process. This should give insight into how each tested amp measures up.

Amps are a tad more difficult to measure than headphones because each has its own gain, current/voltage, and impedance implementation. As seen from transmission line equations impedance plays a huge roll in how an amp may measure. This is something Tyll and I are working on in order to make it as objective as possible without taking a week per amp to measure.

You can expect some necessities like harmonic distortion, frequency response, as well as gain on the charts.

ultrabike's picture

Really looking forward for this.

Dr.Phil's picture

Finally! looking forward for the LCD2/3 review.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Me too. It looks like they've put their little stumble behind themselves, and the current headphones are pretty lovely.
Nick Waterhouse At AirBuds's picture

Glad to see you talk about these! I was just debati with someone on another blog about these... how did you find the comfort of them?

Thanks in advance Tyll,

mikeaj's picture

I like the labeled resistor in a tube with the RCA connector (at least that's what I think it is). Clever. =)

That Senn HD 429 measurements page looks really good for $80 closed headphones, aside from the 4 kHz dip and troubles in the higher treble. Maybe I should try it out.

Joe Black's picture

You know, I stumbled on the Zoro headphones on Amazon and I was wondering what they were! I'm actually really interested to read your review on them! Thanks Tyll!!

Phos's picture

Harman/Kardon has recently released a line of portable headphones, they have a circumaural phone that can run wired or wireless over bluetooth, and a wired phone that looks to be aimed at the B&W P3, either would be interesting units to review.

They also released two pairs of IEMs but those are so thick on the ground who cares.

thune's picture

I also heard the th900 at RMAF 2011, and I got about a minute in before conceding. Being generous, I asked the guys at the Foxtex table if they had anything more "forgiving". Nowhere have I heard that these cans may have been rev'd in the meantime, and it has been difficult for me to make sense of the praise for these cans at head-fi. I'm very interested in your take on the latest version of these headphones, if they are indeed different from those at RMAF.

mward's picture

Given Steve Guttenberg's love of the Velodyne vPulse, I'm surprised not to see measurements of that model (or a review, for that matter).

Any plans to measure or review? I've just started listening to them but I'm pretty impressed so far.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
So sorry, I did measure them but missed getting them on the list. Fixt now. You can find the graphs for the vPulse here. They have WAY too much bass for me.
mward's picture

Thanks! Very interesting. I think of myself as being sensitive to too much bass, and clearly these have a ton, but I feel like they still sound good—but maybe it's the lack of peaks or resonance in the bass. 


Plenty to think about. Thanks again for adding. 

Bear's picture

Is is beneficial(sonically) to use an LOD cable with an iphone 4s?  or  a waste of $$?

If it is superior...any recommendations for a cable?