covertash t1_jdnj9ah wrote

>If some R2R DACs offer filters that artificially, but functionally improve separation, soundstage etc without being a detriment in most music then I wouldn't mind trying that out.

For the above criteria, take a look at the DAC's from Denafrips, like the Ares II, now known as Enyo. I don't have personal experiences with their products, but when I was researching and considering them, these are the general impressions that were consistently conveyed - with the caveat that many report more pronounced results with speakers, rather than headphones.


covertash t1_jdnfz1f wrote

The benefit of R2R DAC's is less about the discrete components, and more about the ability for the manufacturer to create their own custom filters, as opposed to using the ones that are readily available by the chip makers. This is also why the stereotype/myth that all R2R DAC's being inherently "warm", across the board, is untrue. Some are, some aren't.

If you happen to have used a DAC that offers adjustable filters, you may find that the differences are quite subtle, so if you already have a hard time discerning these changes in sound, you may want to spend your money elsewhere.

With that said, if R2R is what you are after, make sure you research the exact one you want, rather than picking one up just for the sake of having one.

Edit: For some additional context.

Here is a fairly recent interview of Jason Stoddard of Schiit Audio answering the question about why discrete DAC's make a difference with layering, staging:

Separately, here are my impressions of the Schiit Bifrost 2, from over 2 years ago before the above interview took place:

> The Bifrost 2 sounds like a 2-3 dB low shelf filter has been applied, except it's not as heavy-handed and blunt as your average headphone EQ profile. Whatever the DAC's filter is doing, it is doing it in a much more precise manner that doesn't cause the bass elevation to unnecessarily bleed into the mids, and can be consistently heard across all of my headphones, in the limited "blind" testing that I have done. What cannot be EQ-ed is the way sound now has a semblance of layering and depth, and it's no longer just a flat "wall of sound", although it is much more obvious with some headphones over others. With that said, bass notes have much more nuance now than I was able to easily perceive previously. Perhaps this is the better time domain performance that R2R DAC's seem to excel in, but all I can say is that it is markedly and obviously different - I leave it up to you to decide if it is necessarily better.


covertash t1_jcq4nzg wrote

That's disappointing to hear, but sadly not uncommon. These last few years have highlighted how much all companies (and industries overall) have had to find ways to save on costs, which inevitably get passed down to consumers. I'm sure in the coming years we will hear more stories about how pandemic and post-pandemic era products (especially electronics) have disproportionately higher failure rates than before, but I digress.

Assuming your old pads are still salvageable with a good cleaning, I would opt to swap those onto the new pair, but I would also give the new pair time to wear in regardless. Otherwise, my recommendation for a full sounding headphone, particularly for metal, would be the Focal Clear OG - but be forewarned that it is significantly more costly.


covertash t1_jcq05ba wrote

Brand new pads are always going to sound different from worn pads; this has been measured and validated:

I'm sure some "silent" manufacturing revisions have occurred over the years as well, but the quickest validation you can do for yourself is to swap your old pads onto the new headphones. Assuming it sounds largely the same, then it's just a matter of allowing the new pads to break in naturally over time.


covertash t1_ja3w22i wrote


Yeah, I came to very similar conclusions over long-term listening between these two as well. The HEK v2 is a wonderful all-rounder that is easier to listen to without fatigue - and this was even doing comparison listening across multiple combinations of source chains as well.

I was able to take advantage of a trade-in for my Ananda to upgrade to the HEK v2, and have no regrets. So I'm heavily considering doing a similar trade-in for the Arya SE to go up to something else, otherwise, they'll likely end up getting sold later this year.


covertash t1_j9u1agw wrote

> And I’m not concerned too much with sound quality, so long as the soundstage stays the same. I know the pads will have some impact on the sound but I’m not concerned.

This is basically saying "I want to change things, as long as I don't change things." Unfortunately, physics and reality beg to differ. ;)

Any pad changes will affect your perception of the headstage, especially with the HD800(s), and in my experiences the Dekoni pads that I tried (Sheepskin and Velour) actually seemed to make it sound "smaller"; at least to the insignificant degree that I care about headstage anyway. To me, the driver's distance from the ear matters to a certain extent, equally as does the driver housing and shape - due to the resonant frequencies that build up within the overall "system". Changing the pad depth will inevitably change the volume of space, and has a downstream effect on the FR, not even taking into account the surface materials and foams that can better reflect or absorb sounds.

Long story short, if comfort/clamp is what you are after, any of the third party pads will do the job, to varying degrees. Unfortunately, no one will be able to tell if you, yourself, will find any of the velour/fabric type of pads to be comfortable (i.e. not scratchy, irritating) for your long term usage. Leather-types will trap heat better, naturally, but given that it's a highly breathable open-back, does it actually matter? Who knows - only you can try and determine for yourself.

Happy trails!


covertash t1_j9bzta5 wrote

Reply to comment by KawaiifuWorks in Favorite Headphone? by blucsigma05

Lol, this one always tends to ruffle some feathers for what I am about to say.

I've owned the Utopia (pre-2022 refresh) for over 18 months, and the Clear OG for 13 months, and in side by side listening, MY opinion remains that the Clear OG is the warmer tilting baby brother of the Utopia. The Utopia has better clarity in the midrange, but there are times when it can come across as slightly more piercing than the Clear. To me, the Clear is the more consistently relaxed listen, but how much of these differences can be narrowed by EQ is up for debate. In a lot of ways, there are a lot of parallels between the Focal "twins" and the differences between the HD600 vs HD650/6XX.

I should also add that the Utopia is easier to drive than the Clear, by about ~3-4 dB. This is significant because if you have an overpowered amp, as most tend to own nowadays, it means that the Utopia can be a bigger pain in the ass to manage volume with less play on the volume knob (especially if your amp happens to have issues with channel imbalances on the lower end of the spectrum), versus the Clear. However, the upside is if you are Team DongleDAC, the Utopia has more headroom available and actually sounds pretty good - as heretical as that may sound.

For me, aside from the above, the biggest differentiator is the premium materials that are used on the Utopia. Yes, the Clear feels great in the hand, but the Utopia exudes luxury, and maybe this is enough to push some people over the edge. However, I often wonder how much these physical qualities bias the perception of audible differences, and make them out to be significantly larger than they may actually be.

I know some people swear that the Utopia has better technicalities, like punching harder than the Clear, thanks to those beryllium drivers, but I'd be hard pressed to tell that minute of a difference. So then, is the Utopia more detailed? Maybe? But if I go back to the Clear I can hear those same details just fine; maybe a tad bit subdued, but it really is the very definition of splitting hairs.

In a world where I could only own one and cost didn't matter, then yeah no question, I would pick the Utopia every time. However, if cost is a concern, how much of a difference does the Utopia hold over the Clear? I'm not so sure it is worth more than five times the cost - unless you don't mind buying used, which means it's "only" 2-3X more money. ;)

Hope that helps.


covertash t1_j999nwh wrote

> I ended up getting them specifically as I was told it can be driven decently without an AMP/DAC (so I could use it on my tablet/phone with a dongle without too much of a setback)

Assuming the dongle you are using may be one of the Apple ones, this would suggest there is some merit to the new Macs' high impedance headphone jacks after all:

Fancy that. :)

As far as recommendations for budget amps, the usual suspects apply: JDS Atom, Schiit Magni variant, Monoprice Liquid Spark (currently on sale for $80 right now), and probably a few others.

Whether if you will need a separate DAC for your specific setup remains to be seen, so the only way to know is to try for yourself. But assuming the source of your static is caused by your motherboard's headphone jack running out of steam at high volumes, then yes, it should be rectified by adding an external amp alone. Otherwise, this is where an external DAC can come into play to completely take your motherboard audio out of the equation.


covertash t1_j97bqul wrote

Reply to comment by blucsigma05 in Favorite Headphone? by blucsigma05

I picked up the HE500 on eBay in 2018, and the seller claimed to have them for 6-7 years before me, so they're well over a decade old at this point. Counting my blessings every day that they don't give up the ghost any time soon.

Yeah, I imagine with careful handling your headphones should last a good long while. :)


covertash t1_j96wu8y wrote

Hopefully in this hypothetical scenario, it's only temporary, and eventually you can pick up other pairs in the future again. :)

If so, I'd opt to keep the Hifiman HE500, just because they have long been discontinued and getting harder and harder to find on the used market. In a lot of ways, it's more so sentimental reasoning and looking at them through rose-colored glasses. I know I do gush over them a little too much, and in 2023, they're no longer the technical marvel that they once were over a decade ago, but they still embody my definition of what a pair of lush "balanced" headphones sounds like, while tugging at the heart strings a little more than others. I imagine these are similar reasons why people love ZMF headphones, which makes me particularly curious to try them out at some point - especially the Caldera.

With that said, there are a number of other headphones that are vying for a close second right behind the HE500. Depending on the time of day and mood, honorable mentions go to the Focal Utopia, Focal Clear OG, Hifiman HE1000 v2, HE6se v2, Susvara, and of course cannot forget the legendary Sennheiser HD600/580.


covertash t1_j6e3v8f wrote

Reply to comment by 717x in Why not EQ? by ChromicClaw2

Yeah, I feel that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction to the point where the context for EQ usage is lost, and we're now overcompensating and over-correcting to cope with essentially a bad purchase.


covertash t1_j6e1wp0 wrote

Reply to comment by AnOldMoth in Why not EQ? by ChromicClaw2

That's unfortunate. :(

I'm not nearly as bothered by tonal issues, as I find even if something sounds jarring to me, at first (i.e. stock Focal Elegia), given enough time, I always end up acclimating and normalizing the sound anyway. It just requires time to re-acclimate again when switching back to more "normal" sounding headphones, at a later time. But I can certainly understand others not wanting to undergo this arduous process.


covertash t1_j69urb6 wrote

If the issue you have is related to the tonality then you're right, EQ is one of the most useful tools to make minor corrections. The emphasis is on the word minor.

To be clear, I'm not against EQ. In fact, I do use it (sparingly), as a tool, rather than a band-aid for a gunshot wound.

This is where it becomes a bit philosophical, and in my opinion, if your EQ adjustments are well over 3 dB (or whatever your personal threshold is), across multiple bands, then the headphones themselves were probably the wrong starting point for you. I also find that if I am too heavy handed with EQ, it tends to swing towards being "unbalanced", and I end up going down a path of endlessly tweaking settings as my playlist goes on. For me, I have a broad range of what I consider tolerable and enjoyable, so I just listen to most things as they are - warts and all.

Some people may feel "who cares how the sausage is made, as long as I get to enjoy it?", and that is entirely valid. It's just different degrees of personal tolerances.


covertash t1_j698o4s wrote

I would treat any list moreso as just a single reference point to correlate other people's perceptions and preferences. The most important thing is to listen for yourself and come to your own conclusions, which you can then compare and contrast against crinacle (and other reviewers) to find who has closely matching preferences to your own.

For me, Resolve has very similar preferences to my own, with only slight deviations:

However, again, this is just another data point that is helpful to triangulate impressions. I still need to listen for myself to confirm where I fall with each headphone suggestion anyway.


covertash t1_j697jdb wrote

> It brings tears to my eyes...

First things first - congrats! It's a really confouding, yet rewarding, feeling to find a setup that moves you deeply. :)

One quick note about the comments on the Arya's:

> The aryas, in my experience, cant be bass boosted at all, it distorts very easily. > > the Aryas however will distort the bass if you try to listen to higher volumes.

Are they the older non-Stealth versions? And more to the point, are you exclusively listening to them through the Valhalla 2? If so, it's possible that you may be current limited, and switching to a different, more suitable, amp can alleviate the issues above.


covertash t1_j5b928e wrote

Maybe innovation has slowed down, but I don't think it's necessarily dead.

Besides, my wired headphones will continue playing long after the TWS's end up in a landfill.


covertash t1_j4k07ws wrote

I liken it to the metallic timbre that some hear, but others don't, with Focal headphones. If you don't hear it, then count yourself lucky and don't go looking for it. Personally, I can hear it, but it has never bothered me that I would give up all of the other good things that headphones like the Clear OG can do.

Same thing with DACs. The Bifrost 2 should largely perform very similarly to the ODAC, but if you happen to be lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on perspective) to be bothered by those last few percentage points, there may be benefits to be had. Otherwise, you can refocus on what's more important.

To me, the most important thing is that you tried it for yourself, and came to your own conclusions, which counts for a lot. :)


covertash t1_j2fn055 wrote

Try going back to your cart and hitting the yellow "PayPal Check Out" button, instead of using the blue "Proceed to Checkout" button. Sometimes I have problems when the browser auto populates my shipping address info, and the site gets hung on what I can only presume is some kind of address verification system.

If this works, tell Hifiman I expect my paycheck in the mail for helping them with their website tech support. :P