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  1. #101
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I've spent about five hours with Meze's new Elite headphones. They have more detail and a "juicier" presentation that the the basic Empyrean but fall far short of the Abyss 1266's as have all the other major flagship models I've tested. The Elite is a case study in good design as the form and fit are exemplary. They don't play in the same league as the Abyss in sound stage breadth and width, articulation or air around each image. The Abyss (through the upgraded JPS cables and into a Woo Audio WA33 elite) are as satisfying to me as any two channel setup with speakers. They seem to be getting better either because the WA33 is breaking in or the headphones have a growth curve. The Abyss is a very electrostatic like planar magnetic headphone. Its only competitor is the Stax X9000 and MSB amp. The differences are not that great. Both have provided me with a superb presentation of what headphones can do when paired with top of the line amps and sources. I'm almost ready to stop. Just one more dynamic headphone (the Focal Utopia) and I'll call the winner and go back to just listening.

    Eric
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  2. #102
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Hey Eric, Thank you for this thread. It has been both enlightening and interesting. I am happy that you appear to be narrowing it down to your final solutions. Both appear to be superb! I love my Woo and Abyss combo (although a step down from yours ). Recently getting rid of my Focal I fully believe that the Focal will be another really good, close competitor, but the Abyss will reign in its deserved place. The Focal are nice; my experience being with the lower Clear MG, but I do believe they are in the same family sound as the Utopia, just not as all out.

    It has been fun reading your discoveries. I do believe your Woo/Abyss combo has done well for itself. Although it could never be mentioned in a price comparison to other combos, it is considerably less than the MSB/Stax combination.
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  3. #103
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric, do you take long term comfort into consideration? I haven’t had a more comfortable pair than the Meze Elite. Whenever I tried the Abyss, I found them incredibly big, bulky, heavy and uncomfortable, but with amazing sound. For me, comfort is equal to sound in ratings.


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  4. #104
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Mike, the Abyss Diana Phi are a great alternative. Very close in sound to the AB-1266 Phi TC, but a lot less bulk and can even be used in portable applications. The 1266's Phi driver is 66mm while the one for the Diana Phi is 63mm. I would rate them as the most comfortable headphone I have ever own... compared to Sennheiser HD-800S, McIntosh MHP1000, Audeze LCD-3 and some IEMs, Focal Clear and Clear MG, Dan Clark Audio Ether, etc.

    The guys at Abyss told me they were trying to get as close to the 1266 as is humanly possible, but lighter with less bulk and a huge emphasis on comfort.
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
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  5. #105
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I found that the Abyss wasn't my cup of tea in the comfort department either.

    I would much rather listen to the Stax 009s with the BHSE.

    I had the Woo mono blocks with the 1266s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Eric, do you take long term comfort into consideration? I haven’t had a more comfortable pair than the Meze Elite. Whenever I tried the Abyss, I found them incredibly big, bulky, heavy and uncomfortable, but with amazing sound. For me, comfort is equal to sound in ratings.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
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  6. #106
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Eric, do you take long term comfort into consideration? I haven’t had a more comfortable pair than the Meze Elite. Whenever I tried the Abyss, I found them incredibly big, bulky, heavy and uncomfortable, but with amazing sound. For me, comfort is equal to sound in ratings.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Mike,

    I seldom listen for longer than an hour at a time so I have not found the 1266's fit and weight to be a problem. I would not want anyone to take pictures of me wearing them however. Audio nirvana is not a slave to fashion. :-)

    Eric
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    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  7. #107
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I just had visions of the Doc Brown in Back To The future:

    OIP.jpg
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    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
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  8. #108
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I picked up a pair of HiFiman Susvara's for a pretty good price on Ebay. When compared with the Abyss 1266's they presented an interesting choice. Both headphones did all the expected things you would expect from these brands: Articulation, imaging, bass presence, purity and impressive sound staging. The differences between the two became apparent quickly. The 1266's had a wider soundstage in both lateral and front to back dimensions. The Susvara's mid range audio had more meat on the bones and a more natural presentation. These are the two headphones I will use. The planar magnetic shoot out is over. Still waiting for Audeze CRBN's to compare with the STAX X9k.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
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    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  9. #109
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    That is fantastic. Very much I have enjoyed this exploration of some of the best head phones setups in the world. I will be shocked if the Audeze are in the ball park with the Stax, but I guess we will see. Of all the Audeze I have tried none have ever felt comfortable to me for any kind of real listening.

    Either of your final two setups are to die for!
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

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  10. #110
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric-

    You really are narrowing down your headphone/amplifier combination selection. Really appreciate sharing all of your findings.
    Being an Audeze LCD 3 owner, I concur they are not the most comfortable but will be sticking with them for my own pragmatic reasons.

    As of yet, have not made a pilgrimage to Audio Classics to have a listen to the MHA 200. Out of curiosity, are you still planning to include it in your round-up?

    Thanks,

    John
    AKA J2Ordan
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  11. #111
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cincy2 View Post
    I picked up a pair of HiFiman Susvara's for a pretty good price on Ebay. When compared with the Abyss 1266's they presented an interesting choice. Both headphones did all the expected things you would expect from these brands: Articulation, imaging, bass presence, purity and impressive sound staging. The differences between the two became apparent quickly. The 1266's had a wider soundstage in both lateral and front to back dimensions. The Susvara's mid range audio had more meat on the bones and a more natural presentation. These are the two headphones I will use. The planar magnetic shoot out is over. Still waiting for Audeze CRBN's to compare with the STAX X9k.

    Eric
    Hi Eric,
    Great thread! How would you compare the top of the line Stax X9Kphones with the Abyss 1266? Did you have a chance to compare the Stax with the ZMF phones that you recently tried out in your system? My apologies if you have already written about this comparison.
    Thanks,
    Anshul

  12. #112
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by apdoc2004 View Post
    Hi Eric,
    Great thread! How would you compare the top of the line Stax X9Kphones with the Abyss 1266? Did you have a chance to compare the Stax with the ZMF phones that you recently tried out in your system? My apologies if you have already written about this comparison.
    Thanks,
    Anshul
    I preferred the Stax X9x to the Abyss but only by a hair. The differentiator was the air around images in the sound stage. I don't know if this was due to the phones or the amp. I have a very pricey MSB solid state headphone amp feeding the Stax. The Woo Audio tube amp is spectacular but may not measure up to the MSB. It did impress me a great deal and caused me to give up testing any other tube amps including the new McIntosh model.


    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
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    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
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    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  13. #113
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric,

    For tube amp, you may want to check the Auris Nirvana at some point. I don’t have the Woo Audio but those who had both pointed me toward the Nirvana and it’s been marvelous. Extraordinarily powerful, quiet, neutral. It’s a beauty and a beast.

    Eyal

  14. #114
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cincy2 View Post
    I preferred the Stax X9x to the Abyss but only by a hair. The differentiator was the air around images in the sound stage. I don't know if this was due to the phones or the amp. I have a very pricey MSB solid state headphone amp feeding the Stax. The Woo Audio tube amp is spectacular but may not measure up to the MSB. It did impress me a great deal and caused me to give up testing any other tube amps including the new McIntosh model.


    Eric
    Eric,
    thanks for the input. Is there a reason you decided to keep the Abyss as your main headphone and not the Stax? Also, in your opinion, would the ZMF headphones that you compared to the Abyss give you much of the qualities of the Abyss and Stax? If yes, that would be significant as the ZMF phones come in at a much lower price.
    Anshul

  15. #115
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ View Post
    Eric-

    You really are narrowing down your headphone/amplifier combination selection. Really appreciate sharing all of your findings.
    Being an Audeze LCD 3 owner, I concur they are not the most comfortable but will be sticking with them for my own pragmatic reasons.

    As of yet, have not made a pilgrimage to Audio Classics to have a listen to the MHA 200. Out of curiosity, are you still planning to include it in your round-up?

    Thanks,

    John
    The McIntosh MHA200 is more of a comparison to the Woo WA22 then the WA33. I was considering the McIntosh but when visiting Shelley's Stereo on the way to the LA show they had the Woo in stock, ready to go, right in front of me. I could not resist and did not have a chance to compare it to the Mc... but I can tell you it is excellent. The WA33 Elite that Eric has is on a completely different level.
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
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  16. #116
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I love the way that Eric has narrowed this down by comparing virtually every high-end product out there. I also like the way that he decided there are true virtues to both camps in headphones, and is keeping what he feels is the best of both worlds.

    The only amplifier that I wish he had the chance to throw in was the HeadAmp Blue Hawaii, but since he jumped right the what may be considered the best of the best and certain one of the most expensive headphones amplifiers in the world... I cannot argue with why it was not included .
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
    ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

  17. #117
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I had the opportunity to do a head-to-head comparison of the new Stax SR-X9000 headphones and the SR-009S headphones at Capitol Audiofest. Both were playing through a tube headphone amp I was unfamiliar with but sounded excellent. I strongly preferred the SR-X9000 headphones as they sounded more relaxed and natural. In addition, the earcup was substantially larger which made them significantly more comfortable to wear. Stax new top of the line headphone is a winner in my book.

    Ken
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  18. #118
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by apdoc2004 View Post
    Eric,
    thanks for the input. Is there a reason you decided to keep the Abyss as your main headphone and not the Stax? Also, in your opinion, would the ZMF headphones that you compared to the Abyss give you much of the qualities of the Abyss and Stax? If yes, that would be significant as the ZMF phones come in at a much lower price.
    Anshul
    I'm actually keeping both the Abyss / Woo setup and the MSB / Stax and feeding them both through a Block Audio preamp I have on order from Mike. The audio experiences are different with these set ups but equally satisfying in different ways.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
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    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  19. #119
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Thanks Randy. I'll most likely go with the MHA 200 should I decide to purchase a dedicated HP amp after an audition. It fits my system and price range.

    I'll be sure to remember a big "Hello" from you to Broom when I cross the county line on Route 17. Actually, I think 17 (AKA The Quickway in these parts) has almost become Interstate 86 after many years of of "Future 86" sinage.

    Happy Thanksgiving to All!

    John
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  20. #120
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Hehe, please do say hi to Broome County!
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
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  21. #121
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cincy2 View Post
    I'm actually keeping both the Abyss / Woo setup and the MSB / Stax and feeding them both through a Block Audio preamp I have on order from Mike. The audio experiences are different with these set ups but equally satisfying in different ways.

    Eric
    did you ever try the MSB/new Stax headphones direct to the MSB Select and hear what that does? and how that compares to the Abyss/Woo?

    or still just using a preamp in between? or was it using the Woo as the pre?

  22. #122
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    did you ever try the MSB/new Stax headphones direct to the MSB Select and hear what that does? and how that compares to the Abyss/Woo?

    or still just using a preamp in between? or was it using the Woo as the pre?
    Haven't done this yet. The MSB amp died and is back at the manufacturer for repair. No idea yet what happened.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
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    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  23. #123
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cincy2 View Post
    Haven't done this yet. The MSB amp died and is back at the manufacturer for repair. No idea yet what happened.

    Eric
    Dang, that sucks. Hopefully nothing major. Nice that you have the choice of the second amp now for sure.
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
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  24. #124
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    did you ever try the MSB/new Stax headphones direct to the MSB Select and hear what that does? and how that compares to the Abyss/Woo?

    or still just using a preamp in between? or was it using the Woo as the pre?
    My MSB headphone amp is back. Blown fuse in the audio section. Couldn't be replaced without opening the unit. Probably caused by one of the many Florida power drops we have here. Anyway, I set up the MSB amp direct to the Select II with Transparent Audio Opus XLR's. Plugged in the new Stax SR X9000's and listened for about an hour. There are some distinct differences between the MSB and Woo / Abyss sound. First, the MSB/Stax has more "air" in all directions. This is a characteristic of two channel speaker audio I dearly love. The detail revealed by the Stax phones was also revelatory. The Stax are VERY power hungry. I ran the Select II up to 98 and found this was borderline adequate to see deep into the music. The Woo has a normal/high gain switch and easily handled all the headphones I threw at it. The lack of gain on the MSB just confirmed my decision to add a preamp (Block Audio) to the signal chain. That amp should arrive in the next four weeks.

    I have to say that the Woo Amp and Abyss phones gave me more saturated, dense sound on some recordings. I really like this but it comes at the expense of soundstage breadth and depth. I'm fortunate that I don't have to choose one or the other. The Block preamp has two XLR outs each of which can be configured as a pass through so I'll have freedom to enjoy both amps with and without any preamp augmentation. More after the Block Pre shows up.

    A few words about the new Stax SR X9000. Bombproof build quality and without exception the most comfortable headphones I've put on my noggin.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
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    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  25. #125
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Awesome and very glad it was not anything major.

    I actually use the volume control on my pre-amp. I pretty much set the Woo at about 1 o'clock on the dial and use the remote from the Hattor. The Woo is about ten feet from my chair, which is not huge but I prefer to have use of the remote .
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  26. #126
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    The Block Audio preamp is in the system. Out of the box, I was not impressed. I had new cables, new headphones also so I presumed it was a need for some burn in. I was right.We have a winner! A few days of burn in brought out the true capabilities of the Block PA. Im not sure whether it was the PA, the headphones or the new Transparent balanced cable that needed the time but whatever it was, it is now good to go. The soundstage with Trax SR X9K or the Audeze CRBN is massive and detailed. It was hard to gain match the MSB headphone amp with direct DAC output to the setup with the PA in the loop. I can say with certainty that the Block does no harm and even at this early stage of operation gives me more air. This is important to me. The Trax and the Audeze headphones are crazy power hungry. I am playing the Block at volume level 43/50 and keeping it fixed. I control the volume with the Select II. It ranges between 86 and 90 depending on the file. I have to say I expected more gain out of both the Block and the MSB amp but the current setup is no problem. I am loving the output on either set of phones. The CRBN seems to have more body to the sound and greater dynamic range. The Stax, more delicate, faster attack. Either one is pleasureable. Because of the price difference, I would have to say the CRBN is the better bargain. The STAX phones are more comfortable to me because the clamping force is lighter than the CRBN’s. The CRBN fabric cable also wins over the standard STAX flat ribbon.

    I am getting better sound that I thought was possible from a headphone set up. Life is good. Happy New Year everyone and a shout out to Mike for helping me make this happen. This completes the evaluation. Summary:

    In the planar magnetic world, I feel the best of the best are HiFiman Susvara and the Abyss 1266 TC. When matched with the Woo Audio WA33 Elite, you get substance, air, soundstage, detail AND bass. For electrostatic, I love both the Audeze CRBN and Stax SR X9000 when combined with the MSB headphone amp and Block Audio's battery pre amp.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  27. #127
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric-

    Well Done! Thank you for taking the time to see this project through and sharing your experiences with us in such detail.

    Happy New Year to you too!

    John
    AKA J2Ordan
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  28. #128
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric,

    many thanks for all this effort to lay out a clear perspective on what it takes to reach the headphone heights. it is a very helpful reference going forward.

    i hope your listening is rewarded by it, as i'm sure it will.

  29. #129
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Thank you Eric. I have enjoyed your journal of your journey. Very insightful and very helpful!
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

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    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
    ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

  30. #130

    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric,
    I agree with others. I really enjoyed your documentation of the process. I'm having trouble finding much info on the last Block Audio preamp you tried, however. All the reviews I found are for the preamp and amps, which combined are priced in the CH and Dartzheel range. Where can I find pricing on the preamp by itself?
    Evan

  31. #131
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Awesome job Eric. A question doesn' that Block pre require 3 power cords ? or am I looking at the wrong device on the Block site.
    2chl : Pass Xa-30.5, W4S STP, Kef 201/2, KEF 140, Vapor Breeze, Lumin, VPI Classic, Manley Chinook, Bryston CD, BHA-1, HD650, HD800s, HD820's, Dan Clark 1.1, Focal Stellia, OPPO 203, 105.

  32. #132
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by CPP View Post
    Awesome job Eric. A question doesn' that Block pre require 3 power cords ? or am I looking at the wrong device on the Block site.
    Yes. You are correct. I am using the stock cables running to my Shunyata Everest.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  33. #133
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by ACHiPo View Post
    Eric,
    I agree with others. I really enjoyed your documentation of the process. I'm having trouble finding much info on the last Block Audio preamp you tried, however. All the reviews I found are for the preamp and amps, which combined are priced in the CH and Dartzheel range. Where can I find pricing on the preamp by itself?
    Evan
    Evan, here in the U.S., the Block Audio Preamp (SE version) is $45,000.

    Chris, the Block Audio preamp is a dual-mono battery powered design. So, you have a power cord to charge the left bank, a power cord to charge the right bank and a power cord for powering the preamp off the mains when the batteries are charging. Fully charged batteries usually gives about 6-8 hours of listening in my experience.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Block Audio (distributor), Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Clarisys Audio Loudspeakers (distributor), Classe’ Audio, Degritter Record Cleaning Machines, Enleum (Bakoon), Esoteric, Finite Elemente, FirstWatt, Focal Loudspeakers and Headphones, Franco Serblin Loudspeakers, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, HiFi Rose, Innuos, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kharma Loudspeakers and Electronics, Koetsu Cartridges, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Nordost Cables, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables and Electronics, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, STAX, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  34. #134

    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Evan, here in the U.S., the Block Audio Preamp (SE version) is $45,000.

    Chris, the Block Audio preamp is a dual-mono battery powered design. So, you have a power cord to charge the left bank, a power cord to charge the right bank and a power cord for powering the preamp off the mains when the batteries are charging. Fully charged batteries usually gives about 6-8 hours of listening in my experience.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    Mike,
    Thanks. For that coin I would definitely expect top performance!
    Evan

  35. #135
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Thanks for a very informative thread Eric.

    I was wondering if you have changed anything in your headphone setup since your last post?

    With my Stax setup I use DAC>Pre>Electrostatic Amp>Headphones

    After many years of tinkering, I now use the electrostatic amp on full volume and control the listening volume with the pre. I found I needed a pre that can output over 10V+ for best results, like you I strive for "air"!

    Clif

  36. #136
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Clif,

    Yes. I'm a few weeks away from completing a major revamp of my system. My basic premise in this exploration was that if you took the funds out of your speakers and amplifier and put them into server, DAC and headphone / amp, you could produce an immensely satisfying audiophile experience. I have taken this to the next step by replacing my existing server, DAC and pre-amp. Not because they were inferior. Quite the opposite. The MSB Select II, the W20SE server and Block Audio preamp were top of the mountain good. But as anyone with the audio disease knows, you are always curious to see new technology and experience how different vendors interpret the state of the art.

    Towards that end, I have in house a Wadax Reference Server and DAC. I am awaiting a CH Precision L10 pre-amp which is due in a few weeks. I have replaced my MSB electrostatic headphone amp with a Viva Egoista STX that is still in Italy but will show up someday. For planer magnetic phones I still have the Woo Audio WA33 elite. I have added pairs of Dan Clark Expanse and the new Focal Utopia headphones. Once I am up and running, I'll post my impressions.

    Regards
    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  37. #137
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    I'm picking up this thread again to document new equipment. As you can see from the pictures, I've replaced the MSB DAC and headphone amp with Wadax Server, Wadax DAC and a CH Precision L10 Pre amp. Missing but on the way is a Viva Egoista STX electrostatic amp I purchased from Mike at Suncoast. My days with the MSB set up were just marvelous as documented in previous posts. I made the changes to satisfy my technical curiosity about the Wadax and CH Precision gear. It is all hooked up today and burning in. Will get to some critical listening later this week.

    New headphones include the latest Focal Utopia model and the Dan Clark Audio Expanse open back planar magnetic phones. Soon to arrive is the new dCS headphone amp. You know that the headphone market is heating up when companies like dCS get into the game. Just what I was hoping for.

    Eric
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  38. #138
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric - Lots of changes but it looks like you are having fun. Do you miss having speakers?
    _______________

    Mike

    Amplification: MBL 6010D, MBL 9008A Monos
    Analog: Kuzma R, Kuzma 4Point (11”), MSL Ultra Eminent EX
    Phono Pre: Pass XP-27
    Digital: Esoteric N01XD Esoteric K05
    Speakers: MBL 101E MKII
    Subwoofers: REL Carbon Specials
    Conditioner: Shunyata Triton 3
    Power Cables: Shunyata Sigma 1 & 2, Alpha 2, Delta and Venom
    ICs and SCs: Wireworld Platinum 8
    Rack: Artesania Exoteryc

  39. #139
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    absolutely wow !!

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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Amazing. We should see the STX in another month or so. It’s a beauty.


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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Block Audio (distributor), Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Clarisys Audio Loudspeakers (distributor), Classe’ Audio, Degritter Record Cleaning Machines, Enleum (Bakoon), Esoteric, Finite Elemente, FirstWatt, Focal Loudspeakers and Headphones, Franco Serblin Loudspeakers, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, HiFi Rose, Innuos, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kharma Loudspeakers and Electronics, Koetsu Cartridges, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Nordost Cables, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables and Electronics, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, STAX, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  41. #141
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric, congrats on the Wadax Ref Dac and Server! excited for you.

    i know exactly how much of a step up the Wadax combo was over my much loved MSB Select II. now, 9 months later, the specialness of the Wadax has only grown. lots of 'pinch myself' listening. it never gets old nor do i take it for granted.

    i will be watching for your feedback details as you spend more time. a question; is that bottom shelf under the Wadax Server reserved for the STX headphone amp or the new Wadax server power supply? you don't have to answer.

    enjoy!

  42. #142
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    a question; is that bottom shelf under the Wadax Server reserved for the STX headphone amp or the new Wadax server power supply?
    Mike

    It's for the STX.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  43. #143
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    [QUOTE=Ritmo;353313 Do you miss having speakers?[/QUOTE]

    Both paradigms are immensely satisfying with good equipment. But they are indeed different. I don't feel the need to go back. The future for headphones and amplifiers looks very bright.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  44. #144
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    The last piece of the puzzle is in place. HiFiMan EF1000 hybrid (tube first stage/solid state Class A output) amp arrived and is warming up. I am anxious to hear what it can do. The Wadax units and CH Precision L10 have 100 hours of burn in on them as do the cables. Now for the fun.

    Eric
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  45. #145
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Great news Eric! Hope you are happy with the results as it is an outstanding system.
    _______________

    Mike

    Amplification: MBL 6010D, MBL 9008A Monos
    Analog: Kuzma R, Kuzma 4Point (11”), MSL Ultra Eminent EX
    Phono Pre: Pass XP-27
    Digital: Esoteric N01XD Esoteric K05
    Speakers: MBL 101E MKII
    Subwoofers: REL Carbon Specials
    Conditioner: Shunyata Triton 3
    Power Cables: Shunyata Sigma 1 & 2, Alpha 2, Delta and Venom
    ICs and SCs: Wireworld Platinum 8
    Rack: Artesania Exoteryc

  46. #146
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric, a question;

    has the performance impact of the additions of the Wadax Ref dac/server and CH Precision L10 had any effect on your headphone hierarchy?

    brought more separation of headphone/headphone amp attributes? or is it too early to go there? thanks.

  47. #147
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Too early to call Mike. I'm working on comparing the new Focal Utopia to the DCA Expanse. Will go back through the others after. So far, Focal is a clear winner.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

  48. #148
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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cincy2 View Post
    Too early to call Mike. I'm working on comparing the new Focal Utopia to the DCA Expanse. Will go back through the others after. So far, Focal is a clear winner.

    Eric
    thanks....makes sense. i will be paying attention to your feedback. you have to be covering new ground for any dedicated headphone set-up......anywhere. fun stuff.

    enjoy the process.

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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Eric,
    Any updates on your latest headphone/amplifier evaluations?
    Thanks,
    Anshul

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    Re: Headphone Evaluation

    Anshul,

    I just received the Viva Egoista STX amplifier on Monday and am in the review process. I will post an update within the next week.

    Eric
    Wadax Reference DAC and Server
    CH Precision L10 PreAmp
    CH Precision M10 Amplifier
    B&W 802D4 Speakers
    Nordost ODIN 2 speaker cables and interconnects
    Shunyata Sigma QR power cords
    Shunyata Everest power conditioner
    dCS Lina Headphone Amplifier
    Abyss, DCA and Focal headphones

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Headphone Evaluation

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