Originally Posted by sillysally
For you guys starting out in the headphone/amp/dac world take a hard look at what Audio GD has to offer. I think some of these are around $200 for a Amp/pre and DAC. Pick up a pair of senn HD-650 and you have a nice entry level set-up.
They use good Dac chip and have there own power supply. If at all possible you don't want something with a wall wart type of power supply.
For you high end guys the new Hifiman HE6 is about as good as it gets for dynamic headphones. They are in a different league than any current production dynamic headphone.
And I am talking about the senn HD-800 with cardas cord and the denon D7000's just to name a few.
The only catch with the HE6 is you need a very powerful head amp like a Woo WA5/LE but some folks are using these headphones with speaker amp/external DAC and have reported good results. Plus for good results a very good source player with a very good power supple and DAC, or a external well designed DAC.
Or if you have a less prowerfull head amp like a EC pictured above then you may want to take a look at the LCD-2 I have read some very nice comments about those also.
In both cases these are orthos.
Unless the finished product is that much better then the prototype I would disagree. I was in the loaner program..Admittedly my amp wasn't the best to get the most out of the He6, But things like neutrality ie won't change due to a more powerful amp IMO. Here is my final impressions against my 50's NAGRA DT48S.
NAGRA DT48S VS the HE6 (Ortho)
By: Kool Bubba Ice
03:30 PM PDT
Final Impressions & NAGRA DT48S comparisons
Cosmetics, Connections & Design:
This is the prototype. I have no idea if any, what changes will be made to the finished product. Overall, the quality & designs fits right in with other high end, under 1,000 headphones. I found them very light on my head. The padding is full, yet soft like a pillow, without being to fluffy. They covered every ounce of my ears. They fit on my head nearly perfect. Only needed a few minor adjustments. They are on par with my former MDR F1/SA5000/DT880 in terms of comfort. I like the wooden design. Minimal gloss, unlike some of the prettier looking AT woodies. Construction is good, but I question the overall durability of these headphones. Don't get the wrong impression. The craftsmanship is wonderful, but seem more on the fragile side of the spectrum.
The HE6 came packaged with a assortment of connections & adapters for both speaker amp/headphone amp usage. The cables themselves are de tachable & of the screw on/off variety. Red/white coloring for proper cable placement. Very easy & self explanatory. Unfortunately the stock cable seems to fit with most high end headphones, which are just 'OK.'. I'm sure getting a better & more capable 3rd party cable will be mandatory for most serious buyers.
NAGRA DT48S Cir 1955-1957
Sen 212 Pro
AKG K240 Sextett
Audio Technia AD700
Audio Technics 810 (Ortho)
Yamaha Y1 (Ortho)
Beyers DT770 03
Beyers DT880 05
Beyers DT990 05
Sony MDR F1
Equipment & cables used:
GoldPoint Pro Headphone amp V9
OPPO 83SE Universal player
Yamaha V1800 receiever
Zu Birth PC
Zu Bok PC
ZU Mother PC
Cardas Silver stereo interconnects
Belkin stereo interconnects
Monster 1000 toslink cable
Monster digital coax cable
Blue Jean Toslink cable
Panamax 5300 Power center & surge protector
Overview. 2 headphones from 2 different eras, purposes, & technology come together with interesting results.
Brief history. The NAGRA DT48S is the first headphone released to the public in the mid 50's. The NAGRA DT48S is based off the original that was restricted to professional use for 20 yrs. Since 1937. So we have a headphone based on the first moving coil design. Due to their technical prowess, They met NAGRA's strict standards for recording purposes & other professional applications, even though they were released to the public. From what I know they were modified sonically before their release. & some say were 600 ohms. My NAGRA DT48S is from 1955-1957, only 5 ohms, & has been repaired & re cabled by Alex from apuresound.com. To put it bluntly, I decided to compare the NAGRA DT48S to the HE6 cause I feel they are the best headphones I ever owned, & quite possibly , the best I heard. My apologies to the K1000.
My Ortho knowledge is not up to snuff. I believe planar technology was created in the 60's, (electrostats also fall in the planar family) & have some noticeable improvements over dynamic headphones. In general, the sound is more natural, effortless audio reproduction with a smoothness that voice coil technology cannot compete with. Yamaha lead the charge for ortho's in the 70's.. Even making ortho friendly receivers. Yamaha also has one of the most revered & respected Ortho ever created. The Yamaha 1000. Fostex was also a major player in Ortho technology, but mostly for the professional market. Ortho's run lasted until early to mid 90's I believe. Ortho's have a cult following, partly in due to the ease of modding, & there has been a resurgence in Ortho's recently with the Fostex T50, LCD1, LCD2, HE5, HE5 LE, & the formidable HE6, which I'm about to review.
I must admit, I expected a highly colored & 'fun' headphone. To my surprise they are more neutral & transparent, then I thought. That is a good thing IMO. They lean on the tonally/timbre rich & warm side, but do so delicately, think subliminally tinkering.. The HE6 'slides' this in without notice at first, it just sounds like it should be there. & nothing in excess like the 650, which seemed overly rich & lush to the point of sounding a bit manufactured. The HE6.
rich/warm un amped instruments sound realistic & natural to me. On the flip side, you realize the HE6 does add a bit of it's own 'magic', cause drums, finger snaps, tambourine among others are too rich sounding IMO.. So it really is a mixed bag.. I was on cloud 9 then was hit with a nose dive..Cello to drums. So the HE6 isn't hard-line neutral. Drums can sound a bit artificial, but the HE6 is transparent enough to allow the listener to differentiate the type of drums/drum machine being used. Acoustics get a 'pass' with the HE6. There's a nice sense of warmth & sheen, but isn't able to re create a authentic type experience with 100% consistency & lacks the ability to dissect every layer & every fiber of the individual string. The HE6 blend string instruments to a certain extent, but with a inviting & enticing sense of warmth that pulls you into the music emotionally, while the NAGRA's just expose what is there without being discrete or trying to connect you to the music. Better used as a analyzing tool, then a headphone that touches all the right neurons for the intended response.
Tonally rich instruments sound more realistic on the HE6 then on my NAGRA DT48S. They have more 'bite', & more 'flesh.' the NAGRA's feel naked in comparison.. But the NAGRA DT48S is more consistent overall & authentic in general when comparing a host of un amped/acoustics instruments.. The HE6 is more hit or miss. & the NAGRA's removes layer upon layer of acoustics along with a life like authenticity that is unreal at times.. But with certain instruments, the HE6 really get's it right, where the NAGRA's tend to struggle a bit. Too sum it up. I was impressed with the Neutrality & transparency.. People looking for a strictly fun headphone should look elsewhere..
IMO the midrange is what really makes or breaks a headphone. I will use an analogy by Kevin to describe the DT48's mid range. It's like a mike feed that's connected to your brain. This is very true. The DT48 mid range is the best sonic trait it has. The DT48 NAGRA is very mid centric without sounding forward. The mids are full, intimate, extremely detailed, resolving, with a true to like authentic presentation, with great clarity to match.. So how does the HE6 stack up? The mid range does sound more natural & effortless in it's presentation. Free flowing comes to mind. Very smooth, but feels a bit distance & recessed compared to the NAGRA. The vocals on the HE6 carries more weight & warmth to the vocalist voice making them sound more alive & seductive, but there is a slight gloss over the mid range that lacks the resolving power & detail extraction the NAGRA gives you in spades.. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.. The HE6 mid range is certainly detailed enough to pick up minor gaffs, & can allow for a more pleasing listening experience, masking minor ambient quirks.. The HE6 mid range wants to keep the listener engaged. The NAGRA wants to discet everything in the vocalist voice.
This is where the HE6 start to move ahead of the NAGRA. The DT48 in general is a labor of love in getting proper bass. It's very tricky but can be done, especially the vintage 5-25ohm versions. The NAGRA's are overly dependent on the source for their bass. The bass is truly neutral without any emphasis in the bass. This makes them sound 'bass lite.' I believe Beyer's did this to monitor the bass accurately for recording & other pro applications. They just wanted to hear the bass how it is. Some call this flat. There are people who feel the NAGRA & DT48 in general get the bass right, others feel you needed added emphasis to get realistic bass with acoustic instruments.
The NAGRA's bass varies greatly depending on the recording. The bass is full, tight, & snappy. Some might interpret them as bass lean due to the lack of extra weight & quantity. The NAGRA's re produce un amped bass much better then amped bass or poorly done bass. The NAGRA's lack bass definition, meat on the low end, & extends much less then the HE6. The HE6 bass is rich, better mid bass, meatier bottom end with much better extension. The DT48 roll off starts between 50-60hz from most reports. But some members have listed they go deeper, with less roll off. The HE6 just offers a fuller, richer bass with more impact & quantity without sticking out. I agree with Frank & others who say the HE6 have a balanced sound. They really do.. & the bass is no different. Bass heads look elsewhere. The HE6 bass leans more towards the accurate & realistic side of the spectrum.
This is another area that I feel the HE6 betters the NAGRAs. The NAGRA's highs are of good quality. Clean & detailed. But doesn't extend farly as much as the HE6. The highs extend very well, & smoother, better well rounded with some 'sparkle'. While the NAGRA's illustrate some roll off in the upper frequencies in comparison.
The HE6 demonstrate a type of blacker then black ground that I have yet to discover in any headphone. & sounds natural to boot. The NAGRA's are 'grayish' in comparison. The HE6 seems to have a lower distortion level, which allows for so,me great lower level resolving power that picks up more data with little effort, while the NAGRA strains a bit. The Blackness is like a void, where instruments & voices simply appear & disappear with a very authentic & life like decay.. Think playing Marco polo. You literally don't know where the instrument is coming from. Any direction & height. It's like being sucker punched but in a good way.. Truly stunning.. This was with my Panamax 5300 PC/SP/Goldpoint V9/Oppo84se combo..
Sound stage & imaging
The HE6 Sound stage is quite ordinary. In some respects that's good. It's not overly big or feels artificial. The Sound stage is bigger & rounder in the 3d sense then the NAGRA which are heavy left to right sounding. They sound exactly like a headphone. Very seldom do you get a out of head experience. The HE6 Sound stage does have better vertical depth then horizontal width & depth. The overall size is above average. They do offer a complete 3d experience. Both the space the instruments occupy & the instruments themselves are 3d & good, but not stellar imaging. The NAGRA's space is flat & 2d.. Think side scrolling gaming. But the instruments & vocals are 3D & gives you a better sense of the instruments & studios surroundings.. From reverb reflections off walls. Studio conditions. The weight & dimensions of the instruments. The NAGRA's sound stage & imaging is better equip to accommodate to the recording. The sound stage will expand, widen, get smaller, change heights of the venue. In this sense the NAGRA's are a chameleon, while the HE6 sound stage pretty much stays the same & is less transparent. You don't get the full picture so to speak with the HE6. The air around the instruments isn't very good on the HE6, & is just a tad better then my NAGRA's. Both headphones do a good job with sound stage coherency , albeit, the NAGR does a better & more believable job of it. The HE6 sound stage does give the listener a full 3d experience, with the NAGRA you kind of have to 'fill in the blanks & can seem a bit awkward at times. Think of a fighting game with 3d stages & 2d characters. The NAGRA's also offer better instrument separation, but this could easily change if the HE6 had more adequate amping.
Clarity. Detail. Speed.
I did expect more clarity & speed. I expected stat like speed & clarity. The Speed is Dynamic good. Not overly impressive, but the notes & instruments are clean & clear. Detail is very good, but it didn't expose anymore information then the NAGRA's.. Clarity & fidelity is clearly on the NAGRA's side.
I won't project a winner. It wouldn't be fair to the HE6. I didn't have the juice to drive them to their potential. It would not surprise me if the HE6 are more detailed, faster, with great separation, & possibly clarity with the right power amp or mono block. So, no winner. I do, however, feel the HE6 is a very good headphone even under powered, their greatest strengths were able to shine. IMO, for 800.00 they would be a great bargain. I would even sell them for 800 for a month before starting to sell them for around 1,000. If Mr Fang does sell the HE6 between 1,200-1,600, I see this as a mistake, especially if the retail version is hard as nails to drive as this prototype. Better the sound, make them easier to drive, sell them for 995, & I think they will sell very well, despite being in direct competition with the LCD2. I would like to thank MR Fang for giving me the chance to listen to his wonderful sounding headphone. I hope he does extremely well with them.