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Solo SRGII Question

Printed From: Graham Slee at Hifi System Components
Category: Headphone Audio
Forum Name: Graham Slee Headphone Amps
Forum Description: Questions, answers and product information zone for Graham Slee Headphone Amplifiers
URL: https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4763
Printed Date: 27 Jan 2020 at 5:16pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Solo SRGII Question
Posted By: southall-1998
Subject: Solo SRGII Question
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 8:23pm
Will the Solo SRGII manage well driving AKG K701? I understand the K701 is a bit 'tough' to drive etc.

Thanks.

S.


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Shane Lonergan.



Replies:
Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 8:39pm
Hi Shane, your understanding is correct - it is tough to drive (but it isn't the power) and I've always found it harsh in the highs and upper mids. The Solo Ultra-Linear DE sounds a lot better with the K701 than does the SRGII (in my opinion).


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Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 8:45pm
The 701 are revealing headphones for sure! I also own some lovely Sennheiser HD650. The latter gives a warmer tone.

Is the Solo SRGII more brighter sounding than the Ultra-Linear DE?

S.






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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 8:53pm
I'd say more "solid-state" rather than bright.


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Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 9:00pm
Can easily imagine HD650 getting on well with the SRGII.

S. 


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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 10:45pm
The HD650 isn't a particularly high fidelity headphone. I would suggest selecting something else if you want to get the most out of the Solo.


Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 10 Jul 2019 at 11:40pm
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

The HD650 isn't a particularly high fidelity headphone. I would suggest selecting something else if you want to get the most out of the Solo.

List some headphones that partner well with the Solo.

S.


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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 8:05am
Ideally you want a headphone with a neutral frequency balance and a musical phase response. Lots of listening and lots of comparisons are needed to hear the differences for yourself. In retrospect, I'm not the best person to suggest headphones to others as most of my list contains old/discontinued models or very expensive ones.


Posted By: capetownwatches
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 8:24am
With respect Ash, I think the HD650 can be a very high fidelity headphone that scales extremely well with better gear. As always though, your mileage may vary. I would not dissuade anyone from at least trying them with the amp of their choice. There are more technically proficient headphones, but there's good reason why the HD650 has more than stood the test of time. 

I do prefer HD600 myself and it's a sublime match for the Ultra Linear (non DE) to my ears. 
Headphones are such a subjective thing. The only way to know for sure how one will sound to you is to try it, preferably for an extended period of at least a week.

Just my tuppence worth...Wink


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Solo UL=Kingrex HQ1=NFB11.32=Little Dot Mkll=SRM252S=Benchmark DAC1 USB=RL Concero
LCD2F=HD600=SR207=DT990 600Ω=TH-X00=K612Pro=K240S=K171Mkll=M4U2=Y50
RCF Ayra 5=Mogami/Sommer->Neutrik/Amphenol


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 9:10am
HD600 is higher fidelity than HD650 but even it has an elevated upper bass and the sound dynamics and tonality of difficult instruments are affected by this. Drums overly thump to compensate for lack of low bass extension and whilst the midrange is good, the transparency of the presentation lacks a bit. HD600/HD650 drivers actually have a smaller coil and diaphragm than the older HD250II/HD540II drivers. 250/540 models have an approximately 36mm diameter driver, which is already small. I think the reduced driver size and oval enclosures both contribute to the smaller narrower stereo image in the HD600/HD650. All these vintage Senns have quite a lot of conserved features such as aluminium voice coil and radial bead diaphragm so I attribute the differences to driver tuning and size. Not to say that the HD600 can't be an enjoyable headphone; it can be, but it's not the last word in high fidelity. Compare it to enough other devices and you will hear the differences.

I think it can take several weeks of use/comparisons to become familiar with the flaws of a headphone. It is not until you forget about what others say and really criticise something for yourself that you begin to see the real truth.


Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 9:23am
Frequency measurements don't mean anything to me. All I need is my ears!
S.


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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 10:12am
In all honesty all I am able to say about the HD650 and K701 is that I cannot stand their mid to high frequency distortion no matter what is driving them. Neither can I understand how such failures (IMO) attract a massive fan-base, and is one reason I do not frequent other forums.

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Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 11:15am
Hmm...I’ve felt for some time now that headphones are much more harshly criticised for departure from flat response than that directed at loudspeakers. Perhaps it’s just that the room has been taken away? But it also seems as though a $250 ‘phone is treated more harshly in assessment than a $250 speaker. Yes, I know, material cost is higher, but...and then it seems as though nobody talks about the changing nature of what’s driving headphones; when the HD600 appeared there weren’t near the number of amp possibilities there are now. I’d like to at least hope amps have improved, but I wonder how much the 600/650 are a child of their times?
And, let’s not forget, lots of people don’t want flat response, either. It seems to me that, just as in a speaker set up, the headphones are the part of the chain that impart the biggest character on the sound of the system as a whole. That’s where I started and now I’m happy. My set up delivers the elements that are musically significant and important to me, yet I know others aren’t as impressed. Okay. That’s fine. 
Seemingly straight forward?
Mick.


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Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 11:42am
Try listening to Midnight Cruiser from the album Can't Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan, and I don't think anybody will say it's the frequency response that's the problem. The problem is "added richness" which might be fine at adding "fuzz" to some classical work (God forbid!), but harmonics on harmonics? If a transducer manufacturer thinks adding distortion (the harmonics) is clever, then it shouldn't be making things (IMO). And then the armchair experts start blaming the amplifier for not being able to put right the headphone's "fault", expecting some kind of magic solution. Should we try to add some harmonics to try and cancel out the offending harmonics? Oh, yes, erm... that has been tried - plate-starved low voltage valves! Not forgetting chip rolling. So that's why I keep a low profile. It's a waste of my time trying to educate folk on harmonic distortion and headphones. You only get Trolled!

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Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 12:11pm
mick whilst not passing comment on the headphones as I am not a user 'the child of their times' comment is true in that good bad. Or indifferent some suppliers lead consumers or reflect needs in a different direction (CD being one such example) back in the 80s

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The Source turntable, Audiomods V micrometer, Dynavector XX2-2, Leema Antila 2Seco CD player, TDL studio 1.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 12:20pm
Handshake

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Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 1:48pm
I still believe the listening transducer is the most important aspect of the listening system. I say this because I would prefer to listen to MySphere 3.1 (£3500+) directly out of my desktop computer's headphone socket than listen to the HD600 (£250+) through Majestic and Solo ULDE (£2300+). That's just me though but I firmly believe the transducer is the largest bottleneck of sound quality, regardless of how good the driving electronics are. I don't know whether tone controls or EQ could change my mind here but I have my doubts.

Also, with regards to flat response (even frequency emphasis) in drivers and yes, I know we don't hear flat, the user listens to headphones in a generally fixed position, determined by head fit, earpads and chosen wearing position. Therefore deviation from "on-axis" listening would be fairly minor. Speakers, however are a different story. The user may be moving around or listening off-axis for a large proportion of their listening time. Therefore a flat "on-axis" response may quite likely be undesirable as the sound will be rolled off for off-axis listeners. For example, this is why many Mark Audio metal drivers have an elevation in the treble, to improve off-axis HF dispersion. They often have a rise in the upper bass for baffle step compensation as well. With speakers, there are many more variables; different enclosures materials, sizes and dimensions. With headphones, these factors are already chosen for the user so the frequency response does not have to allow for flexibility for end users. This is all without going into room placement, sound wave interactions with room/enclosure, impedance curve/s due to mechanical resonance, multi-way drivers and their interactions, moving mass, the list goes on and on

I am of the belief that an even frequency emphasis for headphones is a must for obtaining the highest resolution of low level information and for true-to-life tonal accuracy, dynamics and phase integrity. All assuming that the listening material was mixed and mastered to excel with "monitor" equipment. I don't find a "flat" response boring; all music genres can be appreciated with the same precision.


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 4:30pm
Graham - I agree completely. 
Ash - your first paragraph is gold and I couldn’t agree more.

My point was not well made. I was trying to suggest that people expect unreasonable performance from $250 headphones, a performance they’d never presume would come from speakers. I think a culture has grown up around this that is almost always negative online (no surprises), and has given rise to EQ plug-ins to “fix” every model of headphone and headphone amplifiers of lamentable quality and performance at every price point. Always the search for the holy grail set up.

HOWEVER - don’t you remember your first decent bit of audio kit? That product that rearranged your idea of what’s possible? For me it was an ‘80s pair of Mission standmounts. I heard treble detail - the bite of bow on string, the rhythmic contribution of cymbal work, the moment of articulation on a saxophone. REVELATION. For me it sparked a long journey of wondering what else is possible. But for some I know, that first exposure resulted in, “ah...that’s better”, and there it ended.

Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s just that some are more easily satisfied. Some people don’t care for low level detail as much as thumping bass or a particular type of distortion they’ve grown up with as normal.

I find these discussions endlessly fascinating. I’d dearly love to afford a set of MySphere. But, my kids are in school and one day I’m going to need to retire, so I’ll content myself with my current set up. After all, it’s easily the best I’ve ever owned. It has flaws, but ones which are far less intrusive than its strengths are engrossing. 

Everyone here teaches me stuff. I like it. 

Yes, I’m content. For now...
Mick.


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Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 5:59pm
Just out of curiosity Graham. Do you have a particular favourite headphone? Don't worry, I'm not trying to copy you ;) 

S.


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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 6:20pm
Originally posted by southall-1998 southall-1998 wrote:

Just out of curiosity Graham. Do you have a particular favourite headphone? Don't worry, I'm not trying to copy you ;) 

S.


I don't mind if you do, but doing so might be a tad difficult as they stopped making them quite a few years ago. It is the Sennheiser HD250II. They're bright as **** from new, but mollycoddling them with warmth, and leaving them playing on loop for about two weeks, brings out the "to die for" sound in my opinion. Their frequency response is contrived, but then again I doubt if our hearing is all that linear at such close quarters.


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Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 6:26pm
Originally posted by Graham Slee Graham Slee wrote:

Originally posted by southall-1998 southall-1998 wrote:

Just out of curiosity Graham. Do you have a particular favourite headphone? Don't worry, I'm not trying to copy you ;) 

S.


I don't mind if you do, but doing so might be a tad difficult as they stopped making them quite a few years ago. It is the Sennheiser HD250II. They're bright as **** from new, but mollycoddling them with warmth, and leaving them playing on loop for about two weeks, brings out the "to die for" sound in my opinion. Their frequency response is contrived, but then again I doubt if our hearing is all that linear at such close quarters.

Thanks for sharing, Graham. Any other headphones that you like?

S.


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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 6:43pm
AKG K240 Studio (don't laugh) isn't far off the HD250II. The HD600 isn't all that bad but the lows are a bit like warm water - but you can get used to that - and is far better than the HD800 IMO. All Grado's play great, but with a Solo ULDE though (or a Raytheon dual 741 opamp... no I don't use them, but the original Grado amp did). Just my personal preferences.


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Posted By: southall-1998
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 7:09pm
I don't like the HD800 family. Find the sound a bit 'pretentious' for my tastes.

I've only had AKG K240 MKII (55ohms), nice tone and don't offend my ears. Could happily live with them, pretty much forever. Which K240 variant do you have, Graham?

HD600's are decent. But still prefer the more liquid mids of the 650.

S.




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Shane Lonergan.


Posted By: capetownwatches
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 7:15pm
I'm not laughing - I own a K240S and it's a joke how good it can be for almost no money. I bought mine off a sound engineer who'd used it on a job for 2 hours from brand new, for half of retail... Big smile

BTW, you do realise that popular opinion would have your head for admitting that you prefer the HD600 over the HD800? I know because I do too.


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Solo UL=Kingrex HQ1=NFB11.32=Little Dot Mkll=SRM252S=Benchmark DAC1 USB=RL Concero
LCD2F=HD600=SR207=DT990 600Ω=TH-X00=K612Pro=K240S=K171Mkll=M4U2=Y50
RCF Ayra 5=Mogami/Sommer->Neutrik/Amphenol


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 7:15pm
HD250II - Well balanced sound for a completely closed  headphone assuming like-new pleather pads are on it. Bass extends very deep and clear, aspects of the midrange are lower in level (slightly scooped out) but neutral without peaks, treble is clear and critical but not harsh or emphasized. Rhythmic and musical. High tonal accuracy. Putting HD540II thick velvet pads on it makes it sound closer to a HD540II (surprise surprise). Slimmer worn pleather pads lead to potential boominess and overpowering bass weight. Lightweight.

HD540II - Well balanced sound. Neutral and transparent like the HD250. Best sound achieved with thick unstitched velvet pads to optimise stereo image position. Bass scales neutrally but lacks weight and authority although it is still present and audible and never boomy. Midrange is beautiful; really well balanced and clear with great presence, not recessed like the HD250. Highs are detailed and clear. Very musically engaging sound with high tonal accuracy. Slim velvet pads reduce stereo image size and alter sound balance in a way where the treble can be elevated to a slightly fatiguing level due to close ear proximity. Lightweight and very comfortable. Open back headphone. Putting sealed pleather pads on it significantly spoils the sound balance and stereo image.

HD560II - Sound is almost identical to HD540II but stereo image is more distant, slightly confined or out of natural position. Very enjoyable with high tonal accuracy. Lightweight.

HD800 - Incredible effortless resolution of detail and sound dynamics even at very low volume; highlight of the headphone. High sensitivity. Good bass weight without emphasis. Some music seemed slightly out of focus so slightly boring/uninteresting and unnatural at times, something phase related, I think. Critical treble. Neutral sound with high tonal accuracy. Didn't experience brightness or fatigue but could believe treble could tend towards harshness with bright music. Large and quite heavy. Very long and large cable. Huge black coffin box.

AKG K1000 - Neutral sound balance with some slight elevation in the entire midbass to upper bass region. Doesn't affect tonal accuracy however. Great sound dynamics, very musical and extremely spatial stereo image. Makes all the previous headphones sound unnatural in direct comparison. Low sensitivity and requires a lot of power to drive. High tonal accuracy. Lightweight. High resolution comes from the even frequency emphasis and completely open design of the earspeakers more than from the microdynamic ability of the driver. Much detail is obtained with full amplification however, but not microscopicly revealing like HD 800. Look stupid wearing them.

MySphere 3.1 - Low impedance and high sensitivity so easy to drive. Have a resistive cable to convert them to higher impedance if required. Completely modular and simple construction. Extremely open and highly transparent sound. Bass weight is extraordinary. Midbass elevation from K1000 is completely gone; MySphere is flat as a pancake. K1000 sounds a bit coloured in direct comparison. Everything is so pure and evenly expressed. Very resolving without fatigue. Extreme precision of tonal accuracy, rhythmically engaging. No earpads or temple pads; headband distributes weight over head well. Smaller driver size than K1000 so drivers move less air. Volume has to be higher than with K1000 to achieve the same dynamics and is more critical of head position as a result.


Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 7:42pm
ash I agree headphones won't be subject to the room and location issues of speakers but can't believe any serious speaker manufacturer or designer would deliberately design peaks in to a device to accommodate off axis listening or most users would set out to listen off axis though this may happen by accident. 

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The Source turntable, Audiomods V micrometer, Dynavector XX2-2, Leema Antila 2Seco CD player, TDL studio 1.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 7:59pm
Speaker designers like Mark Fenlon, for example, have a difficult task; to produce a driver with a sound that will please as many end users as possible. Physics and  versatility of use means that compromises have to be made. Mark said in a recent video that in his latest mono-suspension MS full-range drivers (no spider), he would not sacrifice usable frequency bandwidth for dB SPL flatness. He stated that a particularly flat response might not always be a good idea, especially if the application involves off-axis listening. Also, the designer cannot know, for sure, the acoustic characteristics of the listening room and enclosure that the driver will end up being used in. Loading the driver in different ways will affect its response so it's a bit of a guessing game.


Posted By: Pwog
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 8:23pm
Originally posted by Graham Slee Graham Slee wrote:

AKG K240 Studio (don't laugh) isn't far off the HD250II. The HD600 isn't all that bad but the lows are a bit like warm water - but you can get used to that - and is far better than the HD800 IMO. All Grado's play great, but with a Solo ULDE though (or a Raytheon dual 741 opamp... no I don't use them, but the original Grado amp did). Just my personal preferences.


I'm going to throw this out there, but I haven't used headphones in decades! I have a pair of AKG K240 Monitors (600 ohm). Do you or anyone else have experience with them?


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Paul
Acoustic Research ES-1, Ortofon 2M Bronze, Ayre C-5xemp disc player, Dynaco SCA-35 (updated), Dynaco ST-70 (updated and modified), Revel performa M20, Accession M, CuSat 50 interconnects


Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 8:26pm
perhaps MF does have a different philosophy from the majority of designers and with the application in use but don't believe an inherent flaw of on axis peak is desirable for an audiophile design or listening environment unless of course this can be tamed with proper loading and enclosure design. 

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The Source turntable, Audiomods V micrometer, Dynavector XX2-2, Leema Antila 2Seco CD player, TDL studio 1.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 11 Jul 2019 at 10:29pm
Originally posted by southall-1998 southall-1998 wrote:

I've only had AKG K240 MKII (55ohms), nice tone and don't offend my ears. Could happily live with them, pretty much forever. Which K240 variant do you have, Graham?


Mine say 55 ohms and I've had them about a year so I'm guessing MKII.

Originally posted by capetownwatches capetownwatches wrote:

I'm not laughing - I own a K240S and it's a joke how good it can be for almost no money. I bought mine off a sound engineer who'd used it on a job for 2 hours from brand new, for half of retail... Big smile

BTW, you do realise that popular opinion would have your head for admitting that you prefer the HD600 over the HD800? I know because I do too.


We'd best whisper then Wink


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Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...


Posted By: RichW
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2019 at 12:14am
The late Herr Sennheiser said that headphone listening wasn't for everybody
because headphones will never flap your flares.

The joker in the pack was the '650 - Fritz was having a lachen with that one.



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Elevator, Accession, Majestic, Reflex M, Solo ULDE, CuSat & Lautus.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2019 at 8:13am
I think if the imaging produced by speaker positioning can be mimicked by headphones then you may be able to trick the brain into thinking that it is enjoying a full body sound experience rather than just hearing sound at the ears.

I intend to investigate the Smyth Realiser A16 with the MySphere 3.1 and re-evaluate what is possible with headphones. Just need to sell a load of things first to accumulate the funds. Absurdly expensive, but I guess I never let that stop me in the past.

I still reckon that Majestic and Solo ULDE will have better analogue electronics though so they will have to be carried forward and integrated into the signal path.


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 4:21am
Hi Ash,
  I always enjoy reading your posts. Just a heads up that there are numerous studies that show the body “listens” with more than the ears. Sound waves of all sorts (but particularly low frequencies) penetrate the flesh and are picked up by the nervous system, which communicates with the brain, which in turn is able to assimilate that information into any music which is being listened to. Furthermore, the brain is able to tell if vibration felt this way is a part of the music, or unrelated. 
This is related to how you can tell the sound of a door opening from your favorite album, and if it’s a sticky door jam that rattles the floor or walls the brain is alert to it, even if the music is too loud to hear it via the ears.
Incidentally, there is a suspicion that this is why unexpected non-musical sounds on albums (like a baby crying or the click of a lock) can be a bit spooky. Confused brain.
So, experiment away, I’m interest to know, especially because the brain is incredibly good and creating physiological response to imagined activity.
Mick.


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Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 9:09am
Well the MySphere 3.1, like the K1000, has no earpads or enclosures, so that's one obstacle out of the way. I remember cranking up the K1000 with speakers fully out driven from the Proprius and the imaging was very spatial but did not imitate speaker positioning. It sounded unconfined but still close to the head. MS has a much purer sound than K1000 even though the driver size is smaller but the overall result should be positive. Next is audio signal processing and head tracking, which is where the A16 comes in, to emulate different types of loudspeaker setup. The head tracking is what seems paramount to providing believable frontal localization so I may have to attend a "fitting session" for their product, where they personalise the acoustics for my ear structure and HRTF etc. It is very complicated but it looks like my best chance of imitating stereo or surround sound with headphone convenience and frequency precision.



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