Tune Dem of Headphones

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Paaf » 2018-08-16 15:35

My Grado headphones broke after trying to "soften the cables". Don't do it! While trying to solder them, I hurt one driver. (Perhaps fixable by someone better at soldering. If someone local wants to give it a try, let me know!)

While hunting for new headphones, I found my very old broken Sennheiser HD520 in a drawer. I cleaned them up a lot. The plastic was broken near where the headband is attached to the cup. It is a tricky part to glue and it keeps breaking but at least each fix lasts longer... Now on my 4th fix. :)
Sennheiser amazingly still sells pads for these ancient models so I got a pair of those. The HD520 are good!

Also found a pair of old Koss closed headphones in another drawer, but they are simply not good at anything.

Meanwhile I got sidetracked into Bluetooth phones. It's a long story, I'll just say that the most highly recommended Sony WH1000XM2, which has great active noise cancelling, were good but they have no chance against the old HD520. Perhaps the HD520 are really amazing.. but I returned the Sony to the store for a full refund.

During all this, I kept trying different cabled phones. Sennheiser HD660S HD800S, Grado SR80e SR125e SR325e PS500e, various Beyer Dynamics, ATH, AKG, Shure, Roland, Hifiman and B&O and so on. It's kind of a mess to compare because some stores are totally unprepared to let you listen, other stores make it a tedious project.. or put them into highend amps. No one store has all the brands you are interested in... it gets complicated then.

After all those tests, and with this old thread in mind, I decided I want the PS500e. Yesterday they arrived and so far I am happy. The music is very exciting!

Does in your experience burn-in of headphones improve tune-dem level?

Currently my best headphone amp is the output of my Linn Majik DS-i.
And now the hunt starts for a headphone amp.. :)

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Tendaberry » 2018-08-16 16:25

The PS500e's are amazing, I too chose them after extended comparisons with all major brands. For a headphone amp look no further than the Grado RA1, also available with a battery power supply.
I bought my PS500e second-hand, so no idea about the burn-in time.
Last edited by Tendaberry on 2018-08-16 17:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Paaf » 2018-08-16 17:12

Very nice. What amps did you compare the RA1 to?

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Tendaberry » 2018-08-16 17:46

Oh, I don't have it myself, but 2 friends with PS1000 and SR325e's do and they're very happy with it. It grooves like other headphone amps don't and it was made for Grados. We are, however, planning a comparison with my ADSM Katalyst's headphone output, which is enough for me so far.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Paaf » 2018-08-18 22:18

Ok understood. The Grado RA1 seems to get extremely varying reviews, but so do their headphones.

And, so does Linn btw. :)

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Music Lover » 2018-08-19 06:45

Nice to read this 5y old thread again
Tendaberry wrote:Oh, I don't have it myself, but 2 friends with PS1000 and SR325e's do and they're very happy with it. It grooves like other headphone amps don't and it was made for Grados. We are, however, planning a comparison with my ADSM Katalyst's headphone output, which is enough for me so far.
Not a fan of headhpones but like Grado.
Have you or anybody tested Naim a headhpone amp?
It's all about musical understanding!

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Tendaberry » 2018-08-19 14:40

Sorry, but I haven't. Since I mostly use the headphones when I'm travelling, I haven't deemed it necessary to invest in anything better than the ADSM headphone output at the moment. But if that changed, I would surely want to hear the Naim gear. I will ask my Linn dealer (Speakers Corner) what he thinks though, he also carries Naim and I trust his opinion. It might well be that the Grado only works perfectly with their own headphones.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Tendaberry » 2018-08-22 16:13

Music Lover, I just talked to Speakers Corner about headphone amps. They said that the Grado RA1 would be a useful upgrade over the built-in amp in the ADSM. When asked if the Naim Head Line would be even better, he answered rather cryptically that they have a more "powerful" sound. For those who know Kay (the owner) this can be interpreted as "yes, more powerful, but not necessarily better". Since there are many power supplies available for the Naim, there is a large performance span available too. Kay also said that Grado headphones are basically the ones, that similar to Linn play the tune. I don't know if you are any wiser after this, but my testing of headphones confirmed the fact, that what headphones you like is a very personal thing, including the fit and comfort too.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Paaf » 2018-08-22 17:14

Tendaberry, excellent information, thank you!

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Music Lover » 2018-08-22 18:22

Paaf wrote:Tendaberry, excellent information, thank you!
Agree
It's all about musical understanding!

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by AlbannachFE » 2019-10-29 01:05

Any further/updated thoughts/experiences on the search for musical headphones?

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Spannko » 2019-10-29 11:46

One to avoid is the Sony MDR 1R. They’re nicely designed (from an aesthetic point of view) and well made (they retail for over £200), but musically, they’re rather poor. Sound wise, they tread a safe line with no booming bass or tizzy high frequencies - possibly on the slightly dull side of neutral. Musically, they seem to lack any sense of rhythm or timing. I’ve just listened to ThomasOK’s ‘In The Wee Small Hours’ video on the MDR’s and they make it sound really boring.

This brings me on to my current favourite headphones: the Apple earbuds which are supplied with iPhones and iPads. Most people don’t take them seriously because they’re supplied free, but Thomas’ video sounds marvellous through the Apples - bags of life, energy and musicality.

Sound wise, I’ve heard better than the Apples - some expensive headphones can sound beautifully clean, clear and sparkly, with more punch in the bass etc, but rarely are they more musical. I heard a pair of headphones at a show which may have been an improvement on the Apples, but because they cost £2500 I didn’t bother to investigate further, or even make a note of their name.

I’ve just remembered that I’ve seen a pair of Grado’s in my dealers shop. I’ll compare them to the Apples next time I visit.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-10-29 20:22

It would be interesting to know which Apple Earpods you are talking about since there are now several different types: the standard mini headphone plug, the one with the lightning type plug and the wireless. And Apple informed me via email today that they have a new EarPod Pro, which must be better, of course, since they end in "Pro".

I do find mine with the lightning plug to be good and I use then whenever I have a hard time hearing the difference in clips with either the built in iPhone speakers or the iMac speakers. But I haven't really compared them to anything else. I know Fredrik uses his a lot too but not sure which version he uses, although I'd guess with the lightning connector.
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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Spannko » 2019-10-29 21:01

I use are the ones with the 1/8” plug. I’ve not heard the lightening connector type.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-29 22:36

The old type with the 1/8" plug and without the DAC in the lightning connector sounds the best of the Apple varieties. I haven't heard the new Pro variety.

I mostly use Bose NC 700 headphones. Noise canceling is fantastic and the mics give outstanding quality on conversations in noisy surroundings. They sound good too (very similar to the cheaper QC35) BUT they are also a bit forgiving and don't reveal as much difference as the original iPods. For example when comparing clips here.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by hcl » 2019-12-11 21:39

lejonklou wrote:
2019-10-29 22:36
The old type with the 1/8" plug and without the DAC in the lightning connector sounds the best of the Apple varieties. I haven't heard the new Pro variety.

I mostly use Bose NC 700 headphones. Noise canceling is fantastic and the mics give outstanding quality on conversations in noisy surroundings. They sound good too (very similar to the cheaper QC35) BUT they are also a bit forgiving and don't reveal as much difference as the original iPods. For example when comparing clips here.
I too bought a pair of Bose NC 700 yesterday. Haven't done much comparisons (only v.s. a similarly type Sony WH-1000XM3, and whatever the magazine tests says the Bose was clearly superior), but as you wrote they sound good, actually quite good also via Bluetooth (to my surprise). I haven't even liked any of the previous Bose headphones I have tried, so these came as a complete surprise to mee. The noise cancelling function also worked quite well (tried them immediately on the plane air-plane). Thanks for the recommendation!

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by lejonklou » 2019-12-11 21:45

hcl wrote:
2019-12-11 21:39
lejonklou wrote:
2019-10-29 22:36
The old type with the 1/8" plug and without the DAC in the lightning connector sounds the best of the Apple varieties. I haven't heard the new Pro variety.

I mostly use Bose NC 700 headphones. Noise canceling is fantastic and the mics give outstanding quality on conversations in noisy surroundings. They sound good too (very similar to the cheaper QC35) BUT they are also a bit forgiving and don't reveal as much difference as the original iPods. For example when comparing clips here.
I too bought a pair of Bose NC 700 yesterday. Haven't done much comparisons (only v.s. a similarly type and priced Sony headphones, and the Bose was clearly superior), but as you wrote they sound good, actually quite good also via Bluetooth (to my surprise). I haven't even liked any of the previous Bose headphones I have tried, so these came as a complete surprise to mee. The noise cancelling function also worked quite well (tried them immediately on the plane air-plane). Thanks for the recommendation!
Cool!

I hope you will like them. I am sort of addicted to my pair ever since we moved into the city centre of Uppsala.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by hcl » 2019-12-14 15:20

lejonklou wrote:
2019-12-11 21:45
Bose NC 700
...
I hope you will like them. I am sort of addicted to my pair ever since we moved into the city centre of Uppsala.
Thanks! I’m not really used to listening to music on headphones (previously mainly at the computer and for referencing when mixing, but it is a real relief to use noise cancelling headphones when travelling.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by AlbannachFE » 2020-01-09 12:28

Any experience with the current 'e' Grados, in comparison to the previous 'i' variants? (I'm looking at you, ThomasOK! ;-) )

Also, are the G cushions, as used in the Statement and Professional ranges, any more comfortable than the L cushions? I tried SR60s a long time ago, and found them rather uncomfortable :-(

Talking of Statement and Professional, any experience of those?

Are Grado still the go-to for musical headphones?

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by Tendaberry » 2020-01-10 15:19

I find the larger cushions of the PS1000e and PS2000e more comfortable than the smaller cushions, but they aren't as tight a fit. I read a report on someone exchanging the L cushions for the G cushions and he also found them more comfortable. However, they also changed the sound: less bass and more highs. So I would be careful there.
I'm extremely happy with my PS500e and two friends have the PS1000 and PS1000e, which are extremely good. Unless you want to pay silly money for a pair of Stax SR-009 S with the SRM-700S amp, I would audition the PS-series. The PS2000e are truly magnificent btw.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by ThomasOK » 2020-01-10 19:09

AlbannachFE wrote:
2020-01-09 12:28
Any experience with the current 'e' Grados, in comparison to the previous 'i' variants? (I'm looking at you, ThomasOK! ;-) )

Also, are the G cushions, as used in the Statement and Professional ranges, any more comfortable than the L cushions? I tried SR60s a long time ago, and found them rather uncomfortable :-(

Talking of Statement and Professional, any experience of those?

Are Grado still the go-to for musical headphones?
I have not gotten around to doing an exhaustive test of the new Grados. Since we now have almost every standard model they make on display (we don't have the PS2000e yet) it would be quite exhaustive. The sonic characters have definitely changed but they still sound like Grados. I have done a little listening and I prefer the SR125i over the newer SR125e but I'm not sure that is applicable across the line. We have a customer who I believe has pretty much every version of every headphone Grado has made (although I don't know if he's been able to keep up with all the special editions). A while back he said that his favorite musically was the GS 1000, although I don't remember if it was the i or the e.

As Tendaberry mentions the large cushions are more comfortable but there is a change in sound. There are three main different ear cushions made and they are all available separately. The S cushion comes on the SR60, 80 and 125, the L cushion comes on the 225 up to the RS1e. The GS series and PS1000s and 2000 come with the G cushions. The S has foam going over the transducer and is the softest, the L had a hole in the middle for the sound to emerge unobstructed but still sits on the ear, the G is the over the ear cushion which also has an unobstructed driver. It is really best if you can try all three to see how they feel and sound on your headphone of choice. Note that the 125 used to come with the L cushion but was changed to the S cushion when it became the i version, whether for sonic reasons or economics I don't know. Another interesting point is that the e series headphones up to and including the RS1e come with 1/8" headphone plugs and a 1/4" adapter included, GS and PS1000 and PS2000 come with the 1/4" plug. The i series all had 1/4" plugs, at least down through the SR125i - the 80i and 60i might have had 1/8". Grado sells an adapter cable to 1/8" for $21 for the upper end models or older ones that have the 1/4" plug.
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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by lejonklou » 2020-01-10 22:17

I would happily listen through the Grado line if given the opportunity.

I'd bring my Bose NC700 as a reference and they say they're ready for some combat. I recently compared with my three OLD (even close to ancient) favorite AKG's (550, K24P and K420). Oh my, things have improved in 10+ years. They're so far behind that it's hard to comprehend.

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by ThomasOK » 2020-01-10 23:00

You’re welcome to stop by here anytime for a listen!
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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by teatime » 2020-01-14 00:26

lejonklou wrote:
2020-01-10 22:17
I'd bring my Bose NC700 as a reference and they say they're ready for some combat. I recently compared with my three OLD (even close to ancient) favorite AKG's (550, K24P and K420). Oh my, things have improved in 10+ years. They're so far behind that it's hard to comprehend.
Hang on, I gotta check I got this right. You're saying the Bose NC700 beats a pair of AKG 550?! That seems incredible based on every other Bose product I've heard. I've never heard the NC700, but a pair of QC 25 got soundly trounced by a pair of AKG's at a quarter of the price, last I compared (a few years back).

How are you driving them? Corded? Or.. bluetooth?? And noise cancellation on or off?

A light portable cordless noise cancellation headphone that can play music.. sounds too good to be true. Or?

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Re: Tune Dem of Headphones

Post by lejonklou » 2020-01-16 15:26

teatime wrote:
2020-01-14 00:26
Hang on, I gotta check I got this right. You're saying the Bose NC700 beats a pair of AKG 550?! That seems incredible based on every other Bose product I've heard. I've never heard the NC700, but a pair of QC 25 got soundly trounced by a pair of AKG's at a quarter of the price, last I compared (a few years back).

How are you driving them? Corded? Or.. bluetooth?? And noise cancellation on or off?

A light portable cordless noise cancellation headphone that can play music.. sounds too good to be true. Or?
Yes, that's what I'm saying.

In particular I find that my three old AKGs sound too odd, as if the frequency response curve goes up and down like crazy. I normally consider frequency response to be one of the least important parameters when it comes to reproduction of music, but that position requires the response to be reasonably straight to begin with. On many headphones it's not and they quickly become annoying.

One thing that might change my opinion on AKG 550 versus Bose NC 700 is when I drive them with a really good headphone amp. Source First - the headphone amp is more important than the headphones. And I know some headphones can change a lot when being driven properly. I haven't got around to doing this yet, although I have a headphone amp design in a box here. I've been busy with my phono stages.

I find the NC 700's to sound a little better with the supplied cord, but Bluetooth is pretty close. The noise cancelation I keep on, as I don't think it's possible to turn it off in the real sense of the word. What happens when you turn it down is that it (gradually, in 10 steps) mixes in the sound from the microphones, to create the illusion of you not wearing them. I might have misunderstood something here, but to me it appears as if the circuitry is always active.

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