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Pono Player -- so far


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I have had my Pono Player for about 2 weeks now, and I have some questions as well as comments regarding it's performance.

 

It should be first noted that I am using a mere pair of Grado SR60i's. Yes, the very bottom of the Grado totem pole. Furthermore, the very bottom of the older "i" series Grado totem pole, mind you. Now the entire Grado line have the much improved (on paper) "e" series that I will be looking forward to upgrading to -- more on that later. The SR60i's are a pretty capable headphone, which BTW I have had for about 10 years. Between the Pono player and the SR60i's, the imaging is quite good, especially in well mastered/mixed recordings.

 

I have a pretty broad range of recordings in the PCM part of the digital audio spectrum (16/44.1 thanks to ripped CDs, and the entire 24-bit range from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz), as well as some DSD64fs and DSD128fs recordings via download sites. Between the Pono and the SR60i's, many of the recordings have a good, punchy sound with good dynamics. Keep in mind that I have had the Pono for only about 2 weeks now and not a whole heck of a lot of time for break-in due to my work schedule. In addition, I use my Pono as a 110% stationary hi-res player where I live -- I do not travel around with it.

 

I am looking to upgrade to the Grado RS1e's later in September. Yep, quite a leap from the $60 SR60i's to the $695 RS1e's. I am wondering if I can expect a tremendous improvement in overall dynamics, soundstaging and imaging, more realism in the way of improved timbres, cleaner and tighter bass, and an even more detailed midrange. Oh, and I can't forget the fact that Grados are not particularly known to be modded for balanced output mode, which the folks at Ayre Acoustics seem to demand and command you to listen to Pono in balanced output to really "get it". Question: at least theoretically, would an upgrade to a Grado RS1e (with it's single line connection -- aka, no balanced output) be an adequate upgrade for me?

 

Lastly, I was wondering if any of you have the DSD version of "I, Robot" by The Alan Parsons Project, which is available at Acoustic Sounds. I noticed that I have to turn the volume of the Pono almost to the very max in order to hear it!! If any of have this version of "I, Robot", do any of you have a similar issue with it sounding too quiet and needing to crank it up just to hear it? Please let me know, as I am finding this to be a major letdown. It is one of my all-time favorite rock recordings.

 

Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated regarding my experiences with Pono thus far, as well as plans/choices for better headphones. Thanks!

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I do not have a pono player but am wondering if anyone is using a pono with Hifiman HE-560 in balanced mode ? Audiophile65, can you try headphones at a dealer as hearing is everything.

 

Believe it or not, Lexington, KY is practically devoid of good audio retailers. The only one a/v place we do have does not do headphones at all. So, up in Cincinnati, there are some good audio retailers, but they are also lacking in demo headphones!! So I'm in quite a quandary.

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I do not have a pono player but am wondering if anyone is using a pono with Hifiman HE-560 in balanced mode ? Audiophile65, can you try headphones at a dealer as hearing is everything.

 

I will try this for you (pono player + HE-560 with balanced cable) later tonight.

 

My usual combination is pono player + HE-400 (with balanced cable).

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Believe it or not, Lexington, KY is practically devoid of good audio retailers. The only one a/v place we do have does not do headphones at all. So, up in Cincinnati, there are some good audio retailers, but they are also lacking in demo headphones!! So I'm in quite a quandary.

 

If you are having trouble finding a place to audition headphones, Audio Advisor seems to have a fairly large selection to choose from. They have a 30 day satisfaction guarantee on all of the products that they offer. So if you got a pair of headphones and didn't like them, all you would be out would be the cost of return shipping.

 

Also, 'The Cable Company' has a lending library for headphones allowing you to try out various models in your own home. However, they do charge you 5% of the price of each headphone you 'check-out'. This is a non-refundable fee, but they will credit 100% of this fee to any purchase you make. They do charge you for shipping on any items you barrow and you would have to pay for the return shipping as well. https://www.thecableco.com/Product/NEW-Headphone-Lending-Library

 

I've never tried either of these options, but I have purchased items from both of these companies in the past. I feel comfortable recommending doing business with either one.

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Disclaimer: I have never really loved my HE-560s. It's probably just a case of them not mating well with any of my headphone amps.

 

Ok, to me the pono player + HE-560 sounds ok, but not great. It's little thin, like my HE-560s always sound (to me). Pono player + HE-400 sounds a lot better to me. More meat on the bones, more body, warmer, less sterile, etc...

 

Do you love your HE-560s? If so, can I ask what amp you're using them with?

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I use an Ayre Codex in balanced mode with the HE-560. I gather the pono does not have the power to drive an HE-560 properly. I have read the pono will not drive an HE-1000 and the HE-560 is about the same power requirement and about eight times the power required by the HE-400 (2.60 mw vs 2.53 mw vs 0.33 mw).

 

Thank you for trying the combination.

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I use an Ayre Codex in balanced mode with the HE-560. I gather the pono does not have the power to drive an HE-560 properly. I have read the pono will not drive an HE-1000 and the HE-560 is about the same power requirement and about eight times the power required by the HE-400 (2.60 mw vs 2.53 mw vs 0.33 mw).

 

Thank you for trying the combination.

 

Thanks.

 

I've heard great things about the Codex.

 

Liked the QB9-DSD.

 

I'll bring my headphones in and see if Audio Consultants will let me listen to a Codex for a while.

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I spent the morning listening to the pono (balanced mode in settings) + Audioquest nighthawk balanced cable + HE-560 and Handel's Messiah by Dunedin Consort, 88.2K, from Linn. Volume was at 9 o'clock for a 6th row live performance volume. Like being there. I then listened to the same tracks with the Codex, fed by a microRendu optically isolated by two MC200CM. Volume setting was 83 and sound same as with pono.

I am not surprised, just pleased with all the gear used.

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I spent the morning listening to the pono (balanced mode in settings) + Audioquest nighthawk balanced cable + HE-560 and Handel's Messiah by Dunedin Consort, 88.2K, from Linn. Volume was at 9 o'clock for a 6th row live performance volume. Like being there. I then listened to the same tracks with the Codex, fed by a microRendu optically isolated by two MC200CM. Volume setting was 83 and sound same as with pono.

I am not surprised, just pleased with all the gear used.

 

Really glad you tried it (pono + HE-560) and liked it instead of relying on my mini review.

 

Makes me wonder if the the HE-560s I have are defective...

 

I have tried them with a Schiit Mjolnir, Sennheiser HDVA 600, Musical Fidelity X-Can V8 (with great tubes and linear power supply), Musical Fidelity M1HPA, Chord Mojo and the Pono Player, and they just don't do much for me.

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...Lastly, I was wondering if any of you have the DSD version of "I, Robot" by The Alan Parsons Project, which is available at Acoustic Sounds. I noticed that I have to turn the volume of the Pono almost to the very max in order to hear it!! If any of have this version of "I, Robot", do any of you have a similar issue with it sounding too quiet and needing to crank it up just to hear it? Please let me know, as I am finding this to be a major letdown. It is one of my all-time favorite rock recordings...

 

Yes, the DSD download of APP I Robot is very low in volume, I was disappointed as well.

 

As far as headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD-650 in balanced mode and they were a big step up in clarity/accracy to the Audio Technica ADH-M50x. I love my Pono player, use it almost daily.

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Yes, the DSD download of APP I Robot is very low in volume, I was disappointed as well.

 

As far as headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD-650 in balanced mode and they were a big step up in clarity/accracy to the Audio Technica ADH-M50x. I love my Pono player, use it almost daily.

 

Hi Cordo...

 

I feel relieved to know that you, too find the APP I Robot to have very low volume. So I'm not crazy, but I am disappointed, too.

I am going to try headphones thru Audio Advisor and hope I have = luck with AA that some of you did with auditioning headphones. Will also ask Crutchfield about possible headphone auditioning, since that is where I got my Pono.

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I spent the morning listening to the pono (balanced mode in settings) + Audioquest nighthawk balanced cable + HE-560 and Handel's Messiah by Dunedin Consort, 88.2K, from Linn. Volume was at 9 o'clock for a 6th row live performance volume. Like being there. I then listened to the same tracks with the Codex, fed by a microRendu optically isolated by two MC200CM. Volume setting was 83 and sound same as with pono.

I am not surprised, just pleased with all the gear used.

 

I'll see about getting to audition the AudioQuest NightHawk with balanced cable through Audio Advisor. Sounds like you had a good experience. Just curious, when you say "9 o'clock" on your Pono, you are meaning about 75%/100% volume, right? Also, just for kicks, volume "83" on the Ayre Codex is 83/100, right? (I've never seen a Codex in person).

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My usual combination is pono player + HE-400 (with balanced cable).

What cable are you using?

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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With the ponoplayer? This one from eBay: CARDAS-PONO-PLAYER-BALANCED-MODE-HEADPHONE-CABLE.

 

Great, thanks! It took me some searching to realize the HE-400 stock cables can be replace simply by unplugging them!

 

Speaking of Cardas, I'm curious to know how the Cardas IEM sounds compared to the HE-400 or Sennheisers.

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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Great, thanks! It took me some searching to realize the HE-400 stock cables can be replace simply by unplugging them!

 

Speaking of Cardas, I'm curious to know how the Cardas IEM sounds compared to the HE-400 or Sennheisers.

 

Sure!

 

Even though I'm in the US (and so is the seller), I somehow gave you the Malaysian eBay link. Here's a US eBay link with a lower price: 5' CARDAS PONO PLAYER BALANCED MODE HEADPHONE CABLE SENNHEISER AUDEZE HIFIMAN.

 

Also, you know that I was talking about the HE-400 (big, discontinued planar magnetic headphones) and not the RE-400 (IEMs), right? Just checking...

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Sure!

 

Even though I'm in the US (and so is the seller), I somehow gave you the Malaysian eBay link. Here's a US eBay link with a lower price: 5' CARDAS PONO PLAYER BALANCED MODE HEADPHONE CABLE SENNHEISER AUDEZE HIFIMAN.

 

Also, you know that I was talking about the HE-400 (big, discontinued planar magnetic headphones) and not the RE-400 (IEMs), right? Just checking...

 

Yes, understood. I'm just trying to figure out the best options (headphone or IEM) for the Pono in the $300-500 range. The HiFiMan is well-regarded but I see that they're made in China. I like the increased portability of an IEM, so the Cardas is very appealing. I haven't read much about it tho', and wonder how the SQ compares to the HiFiMan or Sennheiser. Either way, it's pretty clear that I want a balanced connection.

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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