Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by dalethorn

  1. Apple is selling the album "Radka Toneff - Fairytales - Original Master Edition (MQA)" in the iTunes store in the U.S. now, exactly as shown for the original MQA album available from high-res stores and streaming sites. Apple also sells the older edition in the iTunes store. But the MQA album is not actually MQA'd. Here is what I found so far: 1) The iTunes "MQA" files (AAC, file extension '.m4a') have a much higher playback bitrate than any of the other iTunes files I have in my collection - several hundred of them. All previous iTunes files that I know of are 256 kbps variable bit rate, and these "MQA" tracks go as high as 461 kbps variable bit rate. 2) I converted the .m4a "MQA" tracks to FLAC, as I did with the older edition iTunes tracks, and the "MQA" edition FLACs' total size is 165.5 mb, compared to 123 mb for the older FLACs. 3) I played the .m4a "MQA" tracks as well as their FLAC conversions I made with Foobar2000, on my Mac's VOX music player using the Meridian Explorer-2 DAC, making sure to try all of the bitrates provided by the Mac's MIDI settings, and never could get a green or blue light on the DAC as I get with the Steve Reich Pulse album (I have the Pulse album in 16/44 MQA as well as high-res MQA and high-res non-MQA). 4) The iTunes "MQA" tracks are 16/44 as seen by the VOX player, as are the Reich/Pulse MQA tracks I ripped from the CD I purchased. Those Reich tracks do produce the correct light on my DAC, but these iTunes tracks do not. In summary, Apple is presenting the new "Radka Toneff - Fairytales - Original Master Edition (MQA)" album in the iTunes store exactly the same as reviewed by major audio magazines and exactly as sold at the usual high-res download sites, albeit the iTunes version does not appear to actually be MQA'd. That presentation seems wrong to me, however the iTunes "MQA" files are of higher resolution than any other iTunes files I'm aware of, and they sound very good - audiophile quality or very nearly so.
  2. This recent model from Focal was supposed to replace the Focal Spirit Pro as far as I know. Physically I'd agree - the Listen Pro is much nicer in that respect, but sonically no.... http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/focal-listen-pro-stereo-headphone-review.4523/
  3. And now for the thorough test with the Macbook, Meridian Explorer-2 (full decoder and renderer) and the generic non-MQA Vox player. This was a real headbanger since the DAC didn't always reset the lights reliably when changing the MIDI settings, but after a number of restarts I believe I have a replicateable test result. High-res 24/96 from HDTracks lit the lights as follows (Vox says 24/96): MIDI == 44.1: One white light. MIDI == 48.0: One white light. MIDI == 88.2: Two white lights. MIDI == 96.0: Two white lights. High-res MQA ("Studio") lit the lights as follows (Vox says 24/48): MIDI == 44.1: One white light. MIDI == 48.0: One blue and one white light. MIDI == 88.2: Two white lights. MIDI == 96.0: Two white lights. MQA from CD lit the lights as follows (Vox says 16/44): MIDI == 44.1: One green and one white light. MIDI == 48.0: One white light. MIDI == 88.2: Two white lights. MIDI == 96.0: Two white lights. MP3s (converted from non-MQA high-res files, or MQA files; Vox says MP3): MIDI == 44.1: One white light. MIDI == 48.0: One white light. MIDI == 88.2: Two white lights. MIDI == 96.0: Two white lights. So the MQA indications I got were: Green plus white (two lights == high res) on the "unsigned" MQA from a CD, with MIDI set to 44.1 Blue plus white (two lights == high res) on the "signed" or "Studio" MQA, with MIDI set to 48.0 The DAC seems to treat everything else as low (one light) or high-res (two lights) regardless of file format, but according to the MIDI setting. Which is why I asked in several places whether an MQA music player can force the MIDI to the correct values, in order to get a reliable indication on the lights. If these tests don't work out for other DACs or music players or operating systems or whatnot, I would not be surprised.
  4. Today I collected my MQA research into a small PDF file at the link below. Summarizing, I didn't find any negative issues in careful comparisons of two albums, in PCM and MQA'd masterings. Should there be an example of alleged sonic degradation in an MQA mastering, I'd like to download the PCM and MQA'd files from the usual high-res sites and compare them myself. Suggestions are welcome, especially when they point out particularly egregious differences. http://dalethorn.com/Audio_MQA_Notes.pdf
  5. Here's a video (audio only) that I made of the HomePod in the Apple store. It opens as I'm recording with cupped hands behind the earpiece mics, to screen out some of the customer/store noise, then I back off from there and remove the earphones from my ears so the sound is no longer binaural (i.e. the soundstage collapses). Unfortunately because of the store's background noise, I had to be closer to the speaker than what I would have liked, and thus much of the power and projection of the speaker's sound isn't captured well here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOYdtW3sJ0
  6. I finally got caught up this evening on my backlog of reviews, so I ripped Disc 1 of my Silverman/Mozart Sonatas by IsoMike on SACD. I ripped the CD layer only, and converted the 16/44 WAV tracks to FLAC using Foobar2000 and the FLAC v1.3.1 codec. The compression was to 36.5 percent of the WAV size, i.e. the totals: WAV: 697115244 bytes FLAC: 254379988 bytes Since this is essentially the same type/technique/content density as the Silverman/Chopin IsoMike DSDs, and since the IsoMike folks made this SACD and its CD layer using the correct conversion software, it's clear that the compression to 23 percent that I got from the JRiver-produced WAV files is very short on 16/44 content.
  7. You get two things with the AMBEO - each worth at least $300 USD (IMHO): A very decent IEM, and a really good binaural recording system (using your Apple i-device) with microphones that capture hi-fi sound. This review has only a few sentences about the binaural recording - the bulk of the review concerns the IEM/earphones. http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/sennheiser-apogee-ambeo-iem-earphone-binaural-recording-rig.4519/
  8. Here's a unique earphone with pewter earpieces. This design had me thinking (no pun intended) of Grado's porous-metal earcup housings that they use in some of their full-size headphones. The idea here is similar - to reduce resonances in the driver housings. U.S. made, the MSRP here is $179, but I don't know at this time what the international availability will be. http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/thinksound-usp1-pewter-earpiece-iem-earphone-review.4518/
  9. After one week of ripping several solo piano and violin/piano SACDs (16/44 CD layer only) to WAV and FLAC -- those SACDs by the same recording company that made the original DSD files -- my FLACs ranged from 31 to 40 percent of the WAV size, or at minimum 40 percent larger than 320 kbps MP3s. The only CD where I was able to compress FLACs to MP3 size was a CD containing long silent pauses within the music, which was unlistenable in any case. I've concluded, with unexpected help from two expert sources, that the DSD to 24/88 FLAC software I purchased is either defective outright, or it intentionally embeds a stealth form of DRM into the conversions. I was not able to pursue this further outside of ripping these SACDs, because information was being withheld by persons who were offended by my questioning the validity of the conversions.
  10. I have a major DSD conversion issue, and my experience (lengthy) is described below. I think I have everything covered, with input from many experts. The key issue is some extremely suspect conversions being done with a top-rated software player and converter. http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/flac-conversions-from-16-44-wav-files-are-smaller-than-mp3s.4517/
  11. I found some good news about the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphone, insofar as I hadn't planned to try using it with a good DAC because the headphone had no true passive mode, i.e. where all electronics in the headphone are turned off. Plugging in the supplied audio cable with the headphone off turns the headphone on, with ANC also turned on. I immediately turn ANC off with the double-click, and despite the headphone's power still being on, I assume it's not in Bluetooth mode since the audio cable is plugged in. Whatever the case, and using the AQ DragonFly Red as the DAC/headphone amp, the overall sound got smoother, the treble less harsh, and the bass firmer. The deep bass tones around 30 hz that were distorted in Bluetooth mode now sounded like 30 hz bass tones. This may not be the final word on the Studio3, but I'm pretty confident now, at least using judicious EQ, that this headphone can serve as a Bluetooth portable for casual listening, and as a home-system headphone.
  12. I added comments to the original review about EDM music, and a list of 16 EDM tracks I tested with EQ on and off, to compare the Studio3 to v-moda's Wireless2. The Wireless2 wins on deep bass solidity and impact, but the Studio3 may (or not) do better otherwise.
  13. The Studio3 was sitting there at the Apple Store, looking very tempting in its impressive "special edition" packaging, and I even got a 5-minute listen to the demo unit using my own iPhone. The demo sounded kinda thick - even a bit muffled, but the extra sweetening they added on the high end made it listenable. I've had a few Bluetooth headphones now, but not a Beats wireless, so I was curious what the potential of this headphone might be for quality listening, given that I'd re-tune it a little with my equalizer. The conclusions are in the review text, but one thing I can say up front is that while they get the middle frequencies about right through their ANC-plus-Bluetooth codecs, the extreme lows seem to have excess distortion. The extreme highs fare better, but I can't judge how much negative impact the DSP's have on those highs versus how much quality if any is lost in the basic design. One issue that popped into my head while writing this review is the so-called Loudness Wars. I wonder if the trend in many new headphones to have a recessed lower treble is actually compensation for the Loudness effect, to push the strong forward voices more to the background. Pure speculation there.... http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/beats-studio-3-wireless-bluetooth-headphone-review.4516/
  14. May everyone in their part of the world enjoy this Christmas and holidays season, and get ready for an exciting New Year.
  15. Now, 6 years and 160 headphone reviews later, I have some opinions. So far, I haven't heard a planar that can resolve high frequency harmonics anywhere near as well as the Sennheiser HD800. But today we have some hybrid designs, like the Final Audio Sonorous VI that has the large dynamc driver as well as a balanced armature. I don't know whether anyone is making a planar that also contains a small high-frequency driver.
  16. V-MODA's M100 was kept in the "portables" section of hedfi with IEMs for some time, until I rescued it and helped make it no. 1 on Amazon. Then they could no longer ignore it.
  17. This could have been just another IEM review, but it's a woody, it's a Thinksound, and to me the sound is as good as or better than the RHA T20i that I had. The sound is definitely V-shaped, and it has a one-button control box with microphone. MSRP is $119 USD. http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/thinksound-ts03-plus-in-ear-wood-earpiece-earphone-iem-review.4489/
  18. SPAM. If this were a real review it would be in its own topic.
  19. Your post is spam, and has nothing to do with this type of headphone.
  20. NuHearA IQbuds are a new item being promoted as "Airpods on steroids", which sounded very appealing to me, but I had some doubts, so after 2 days of email exchanges it emerges that these are just an IEM and not a competitor to Apple's outer-ear Airpods: http://www.nuheara.com/award-winning-earbuds/?gclid=CJnkybvPrNQCFVQ8gQodS2gI8Q
  21. Another followup on another major review that stated: "With or without the on-board amp engaged, the Ella struggled a bit to build out the (Audeze) EL-8’s spacing and instrumental depth on 24 bit/192kHz tracks like Steely Dan’s Josie. Though they still sounded fantastic, the Ella couldn’t quite recreate moments like the EL-8’s effortless powdery glow in the crash cymbals there." While I don't have a 192 khz copy of Josie (nor could I find one), my SHM-CD from Japan is a very good copy and sufficient for comparison. The El-8 is undoubtedly a great headphone with an earcup design that produces a superb soundstage, but the Ella's "spacing and instrumental depth" is not lacking at all. As for the "powdery glow" in the cymbals, given the Ella's high frequency extension and the rich upper harmonics produced by the cymbals, the EL-8's upper treble must be tuned brighter than Ella's, which may or may not work with a wide range of music.
  22. I always follow up on my reviews, but I rarely comment on others, unless I find something I can't validate. I read this on one major review of the Ella: "With dense arrangements, particularly those with potentially chaotic bass like Kamasi Washington’s Change Of The Guard, the Blue Ellas don’t always seem as composed and calm as they should given their price." So I bought the album, most of which had fairly weak background bass accompaniment - especially Change of the Guard, and sure enough, the bass as played by the Ella was fairly weak and indistinct. However, these were not ultra deep bass parts (where Ella is shy by a few db), and after evaluating this track with a few more headphones, I find that Ella is playing this music at least as well as my other premium headphones, and in some cases better due to the planar's quicker response.
  23. I bought the Ella because it looked very futuristic, extremely well built, had planar drivers, and the minimal reviews and comments didn't scare me off. While that doesn't sound terribly exciting, my review doesn't rave about this headphone either, because the price is high ($700 USD) and the sound is rather mid-centric. All that aside, I love this headphone, and I place it above the likes of the AQ NightHawk and other headphones near its price, and very close to the Focal Elear in overall quality and performance. http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/community/threads/blue-microphones-ella-planar-stereo-headphone-review.4470/
  • Create New...