Sad day everyone my beloved press sample very early production model Focal Elear has died, more precisely the dreaded left channel failure, right channel works fine and measures at 80ohm, but left channel is completely dead and measures open (no continuity), apparently it’s a common failure with the driver itself and I’m quite lucky to have them last as long as they have since I’ve been using them for 5 hours per day every day.
Anyway I guess I’m looking for a new headphones my budget is up to 2k EUR and keep in mind to include 25% import tax for phones manufactured outside of European union + new cables if specific phones ship with crappy one in the budget.
Here are my priorities form highest to lowest;
-Neutral or slightly warm tone.
-Imaging: holographic is preferred but 3D or even 2D are ok as long as it’s precise.
-good timbre especially in the midrange and lower treble
I prefer open headphones with cloth pads, I’m ok with leather pads as long as headphone doesn’t create complete seal, even some open back phones (usually planar) do that and they make my ears click and pop if I move my jaw or head.
Any suggestions with quick summary of sound signature are welcome thank you very much for your help and time!
Well all I could think of is Zmf Auteur Classic and maybe something like a Sony mdr-z1r. I would also take a look at the dca stuff like the ether flow series. Hifiman has a nice lineup of stuff too.
What are you going to be driving these headphones with? When it comes to headphones in that price range some of the better options can require a pretty beefy amp so before I start suggesting I’d like to know what you’re working with. Also, I’m in the US so I’m not sure what exactly is available to you in your part of Europe. Are there any brands you know of that aren’t available to you of the major high end headphone manufacturers?
Everything is available here, you have to pay 25% import tax for stuff that’s not made in EU though.
I have RebelAmp 1w, 0.1ohm output impedance (it’s class A so unlike other topologies it can use all of it’s power without losing signal quality), and THX 789 (stored in the box), even though Rebel has 6 times less power I found it more capable amp, it drove LCD-4 just fine so it’s gonna be ok as long as you don’t ask it to drive “special needs” phones that require speaker amp, I think.
So this is where I am right now
Sony mdr-z1r auditioned them back when they where new, didn’t like them.
Dca out of my budget, at least open back.
Phones that I like so far
-Sennheiser HD800S (possibly warmer tone with dekoni pads) Great imaging, great soundstage, great detail retrieval, subpar bass
-Focall clear mg, better bass, better male vocal presentation compared to HD800S, worse imaging, worse soundstage compared to HD800S
-Zmf Auteur Classic, like Clear mg but better soundstage and imaging?
One last question, are you only looking to buy new or is used an option too?
Unless it’s a really good value, I would prefer new
Update, i disassembled my Elears, the really thin wire that goes from voice coil to connection terminal has snapped, unfortunately it snapped somewhere around the middle and it can’t reach the terminal again so I can’t solder it back on even though I have the equipment to do so. I contacted Focal and asked them if I can buy the set of matched drivers, their response was to tell me to send them the phones and they’ll replace the drivers for me for 700 EUR + shipping, the only way that interaction could’ve gone worse is if they started laughing to my face.
Anyway Sennheiser does sell spare parts, actually you can buy the whole phone in parts and build it yourself which is pretty awesome. Does anyone know if ZMF support is any good and do they sell spare parts to customers?
Hm auteur classic would be a good think but if you are willing to buy used I can recommend a beyerdynamic t1.2 with dekoni elite velour pads
There is only one question that comes with the t1.2, do you have any experience with Beyer cans and found them piercing sharp? Cause they also have the Beyer 8k peak that is for some like a knife in the ear but others can’t really hear it. So if you had any experience with Beyers you know if you can live with them but otherwise I think the t1.2 could be a good choice
The only Beyerdynamic I listened was original T1 they where very shouty and bright, they kinda reminded me of the original hd 800 (non s) but even brighter, I didn’t like both of them back in the day which is why I went with Elear, but HD 800 S appears to have most of the issues I had with original 800 fixed.
ZMF has a lifetime warranty on their driver’s. The other thing is that their customer service is pretty great so I’d email Zach and ask.
Hm the t1.2 have less treble and more warmth the og T1 but if you did dislike the og that much I think you are one of those that aren’t compatible with the Beyer house sound
So I would think a zmf could be a good choice for you auteur for a neutral warm sound with a very good timbre or an aeolus for a warmer and more relaxed sound but the aeolus could also lack some detail for you
As an outside option maybe Arya stealth those should be less trebly than the og and bit more warm and should work decent with your rebel ^^
And yeah focal service sucks ass not only are they selling their HP in Europe for more and won’t give us the elec as a good entry into their line up but also have a horrible customer service like you did describe and I also heard from many others
One of the main reasons I didn’t get an og clear till now
So here is where I’m after doing a lot more research
Focal clear mg is out, according to a few reviews that compared it directly with Zmf Auteur Classic, the 2nd is superior.
I could not find any direct comparisons between HD 800 S and Zmf Auteur Classic but according to individual reviews HD 800 s has better soundstage and better imaging, better timbre too for acoustic instruments, they also respond well to pad swaps making it possible so slightly shift the tone to warm with hits to imaging precision and detail retrieval in the process.
Zmf Auteur Classic has better bass response which gives it an edge with lower male vocals presence, but lifted mids in my experience can introduce layering effect to some mixes where parts of the mix appear to detach and float above or below of the rest of the mix, I have found that Diamond City Lights is pretty good song for detecting that, on some mid forward phones vocals pop out and music sinks into background, I don’t know it that happens on Zmf Auteur Classic though, that song is also useful for checking input to output gain linearity of amps, it makes it very easy to tell if amps suffer from it like THX 789 does.
If anyone has listened or owns Zmf Auteur Classic I would appreciate your impressions of it, especially if you had a chance to compare it with HD 800 S.
I have heard horror stories about HiFi man quality control in the past which turned me off from that brand, they also have some quirks with sound, mainly they are tuned to sound more sweet rather than realistic which makes timbre a bit unnatural according to some reviews, I can see why some people love them though.
The Arya SE is very source chain dependent, so everyone’s experience will vary as far as I have seen in comments and reviews. I have my pair hooked up to a Bifrost 2/64 + Burson Soloist 3XP (with the optional 3A super charger). To me they sound natural depending on the track of course, as not all mixing/mastering is created equal. To each their own though, sound is very subjective.
I have zero experience with these headphones but there has been a set of headphones that I have been very curious about. There is some like Singaporean or Chinese headphone called the Nan -6. They apparently have a relatively similar tuning to the susvara while having the smaller soundstage of a hifiman he6. The higher end model called the nan 7 is supposed to have more bass and a tiny bit more soundstage I think compared to the nan-6. These headphones though have the downside of needing a proxy or buying them off aliexpress along with most likely an over 1 month wait. They are like around the $600 to $1000 usd however so it could be a decent option but I understand why someone could be uncomfortable to buy them.
They do look interesting but no professional reviews and lack of spare parts make them though pill to swallow blind; I have changed 3 sets of pads on my Elear while I had them and Focal refused to sell me 3rd set so I went with Dakoni, I do use my phones more than most that’s why lack of pars, and lack of measurements and reviews for aftermarket earpads is especially concerning.
Ye understandable about the serviceability at this price without direct warranty and problem to find that much data. Only people that have really measured the thing is gzbaga and amir with gzbaga only measuring it with susvara pads that being said for kinda archive purposes I think the pads that are on it are one of those generic hifiman pads that you find on aliexpress the official guy who sells them on taobao sells extra pairs of them for around 50 cents(how is this price so low like it would take way more in fuel to ship this thing than its worth). For just putting this info out here since its pretty difficult to access this stuff at times imma just part of the listing and some alternatives I found incase somebody does buy the headphone
Thse are the aliexpress listing for the hybrid pads
And this one is for perferated pads
I bought both before for diy projects and personally the hybrid ones had some peeling on the bottom stitching but the hybrid ones have held up just fine
That’s pretty useful info friend, thanks for compiling it!