InnerFidelity Update September 2014

Headphone Measurements
As usual I've updated the AllGraphs.pdf of course, and added the cans to the measurement datasheets page. In the paragraphs below I've linked to the data sheets. New additions include:

  • HiFiMan HE-560 - Maybe my favorite HiFiMAN headphone yet, but it's a fairly bright headphone overall. I've got to get the new A pad in and have a listen and measure. Just don't know if I'll review it yet, but if you tend to like things a bit fast sounding, you'll probably want to audition these.
  • Stax Headphones - Had some interesting Stax headphones come through. Measured an SR-207 and it performed quite nicely on paper for sure. - I've been very fortunate to have had a pair of SR-009s and a HeadAmp Blue Hawaii here at home on loan from a generous headphone enthusiast who didn't have an appropriate spot at home for his gear. Well, said enthusiast has relocated and found a place for the gear back in his home. I'm so glad they're re-united! Before returning the cans, however, I did take the opportunity to measure them driven by my new KGSSSRE (Kevin Gilmore Solid State Special Reviewers Edition). I now have two good measurements of two different SR-009s, one driven by the Blue Hawaii, the other driven by the KGSSSRE. What's satisfying about these two measurements is that they're very similar providing at least one data point that the Stax cans are being well manufactured, and that measurements taken with differing but competent amps aren't going to change the measured results much. - Lastly, brought to the surface in InnerFidelity's Electrostatic Headphone Measurement Program, I got to measure an old Stax SR-40 Electret and SR4 Adapter. Not much bass, but pretty good otherwise.
  • Oppo PM-2 - If there's ever been a headphone to get enthusiasts in general to become aware of the importance of ear pads the Oppo PM-2 is it. I'll shortly be reviewing the PM-2 (which will be a foreshortened review as it's so similar to the PM-1 I reviewed here) but I thought it would be a good time to provide the full measurement dump of both cans with all pads. Here you go: Oppo PM-1 with Leather, Velour, Alternate, and PM-2 pads; Oppo PM-2 with PM-1 Leather, Velour, and Alternate, and PM-2 Stock Pad. I've got some other graphs comparing the two, I'll post up soon.
  • The New Beats By Dre Headphone Line - Yeah, I thought the new Solo2 was great (here's the measurements), but what about the rest of the line? I'd say it's mixed, but the line as a whole is way better than it used to be. - Here's a good for-instance, compare the old Tour with the new Tour. The impulse and 300Hz square wave response of the old one was kind of a ragged mess; the new one is fairly quick and very clean. Also note the significant difference between the two in distortion. Seemed like a really good basshead headphone to me...I'm sending them off to ljokerl to consider for review. - Not sure what too think about the Mixr. It's pretty good sounding, but not top tier. Measurements kinda okay. They're bit uncomfortable to wear. It is an okay headphone though...which means it's way better than the original Beats stuff. - Which brings us to the the new Studio2. The original Monster Beats by Dre Studio was the best in the original line I thought, though I'd only rate is as mediocre. In the New Beats line-up, I find the new Studio2 among its lower performers. It seems to have moved sideways in sound, it's a bit different sounding than the old one, but it still sounds mediocre. It needs to be said again though, while it's had the market share for a long time, the new line-up shows Beats by Dre is a competitive headphone manufacturer in every way on the world scene.
  • Koss ESP 950 - The measurement threads delivers with a comparison of the ESP 950 old and new. Sorry have no idea how many years apart the manufacture, but the two measurements are almost three years apart by file date. Seems like the measurement system is pretty repeatable. *knocks wood*
  • Master&Dynamic MH40 - Yowza, I hear the 30Hz square wave of the MD40 measurements shout "I will hit you hard and clean"...and it does. My ears want me to like these headphones...but I've only had them for a few days.
  • Focal Spirit Line-up - I really liked the Focal Spirit Professional and Classic. At $100 less the new Spirit One S still inherits a lot of sonic goodness from it's stablemates at Focal.
  • Phonon SMB-02 - Though a bit expensive here in the states, I thought the Phonon SMB-02 was clean, if polite, in the treble, and the missing bottom octave gave it a bit of an old-school sound.
  • Unique Melody 3X - If the peak at 5kHz in the raw FR plots (lower in gray in measurements) were at 3kH I'd say they'd be real good, though a bit rolled-off in the top octave of the treble.
  • ljokerl Stash o' IEMs - In the little treasure box this time were the: JVC HA FR301; Fidue A31s and A83; Tekfusion Twinwoofers and Ecowoofers; T-Peos Altone; Ivery Is1; and Rock Jaw Alpa Genus with silver and black filters. (The black filter in the right ear was faulty (loss of bass) but because the silver filters worked fine, and because I thought the measurement of the silver filter was pretty good, I erases the right filter response and published the measurements.)

Have a nice relaxing weekend and enjoy Labor Day! You've earned it.

tinyman392's picture

Your M&D MH40 measurements link to Koss ESP 950 measurements :p

Tyll Hertsens's picture
fxt, thanks!
sepiash's picture

Hi Tyll, so is there going to be a M&D mh40 review from innerfedility or should I just keep on dreaming? :)

ManiaC's picture

Tyll what about HE-400i?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Haven't gotten it in yet.
drm870's picture

Is this still upcoming?

Impulse's picture

Hope it's coming before November!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I've developed some mixed feelings about them. They're good for T50RP modded cans and quite interesting for enthusiasts as such, but I'm not sure they really stack up against the competition on the open market at their price point. We'll see.
drm870's picture

Sorry to hear that. That said, you of course must (and should) trust your own judgement, whatever the case may be. :)

Impulse's picture

Have you had much time with the lower end Mad Dog Pros too? I've been looking at them for a while but now I'm curious whether I'd be better off with something like NAD HP50 or Focals...

ManiaC's picture

Hope HE-400i will have less noise in mid range.

Tyler Schrank's picture

Nice! Thanks for the Oppo + pad measurements!

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Especially found the Spirit One S measurement interesting since I've had it on my radar and it doesn't disappoint measurement-wise. Possibly have to give it a try.

Guitarist9273's picture

They're intriguing looking! I don't have expectations of them being phenomenal, but I'm curious... I can't decide if I love or hate the way they look. Any plans to get a sample and measure them?

Guitarist9273's picture

M&D headphones are so sexy, damn it! I Hope they sound good.

Jazz1's picture

I've been using them over the Labor Day weekend with my IOS devices. They are large, they are heavy and they are uniquely designed. I find them very satisfying anytime I'm not in range of my desktop rig. In fact they sound great on my desktop rig with their built-in amplifier off.

They are dynamic sounding without being over the top. I haven't been able to get enough of these after comparing them to my B&W P5 and p7 (on my iPad Air and iPhone 5s). Check out Wirecutter's headphone reviews.

If you fancy a totally flat presentation then these probably won't be for you. If you think mobile headphones should be small and compact then you will pass these by due to size and weight. In the end I'm glad I didn't let concerns about size and weight prevent me from trying these out.

Now are they going to blow the minds of people really into headphones using high end outboard amplifiers and DACs? Probably not. But for the price they certainly sound good to me. I hope they get a review here that takes into consideration their price and neat design.

Long time listener's picture

I would really like to see measurements for the JBL Synchros 200 in-ear model: next to the comparably priced Yamaha EPH-100, it has better clarity and definition across the board. Deserves a look. Also the Sony XBA-H3--a very nice sounding 3-driver IEM. Lately, both have been giving me the best sound I've heard from any IEMs in their respective ranges.

And I really appreciate all the measurements you do already.

Long time listener's picture

I should note that the JBL is notable for remarkable clarity and coherence at its price point--but its balance is another thing. Its mid- and upper-bass weightiness can become cloying or oppressive after a while.

But the hybrid Sony is really something to hear.

DrForBin's picture


with a bit of digging i'm thinkin' that these were miceblue's cans.

i had the opportunity to hear them at the Seattle HeadFi meet at the Frye.

my iPod (Apple lossless), a cheap 30 pin to RCA cable into miceblue's amp, before it got loud and crazy...

when i'm in the right mood "Riviera Paradise" makes me cry. with this audition i realized that it doesn't matter my mood if the cans are right.

and to be real, an entry level Stax set up is not an arm, a leg, and a child into indentured servitude. (it might be 2 December holidays, though.)

amazing, and affordable high-end headphones.

mikeaj's picture

Hey, Tyll, if you ever get the HE-400i in for a spin, would you mind putting up the measurements as soon as they're done? I forget if you update the page all at once in these monthly update things or as results roll in (the latter would take more time and be more annoying, so I wouldn't fault the former).

I think a lot of people are looking forward to this additional point of reference.

xp9433's picture

Looked at the measurements for the HE560. Trying to interpret your measurements.
Does the impulse and 300Hz square wave response suggest that this is a two-way design, with the drivers out of absolute phase/polarity with each other?

xp9433's picture

From your test results can you identify the absolute polarity of drivers in the unit under test? Something you might be able to see easily from say a step response. Can you interpret absolute polarity of drives from impulse or square wave results?

buckchester's picture

I am also hoping you review the HE-400i...