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rossb

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  1. The headphones in that review were the LCD4, not the 4z. Also, a reminder that that there was a problem with that initial sample of the LCD4, and Tyll adjusted his views in a subsequent review. And even in that initial review, Tyll did not trash the headphones. He pointed out a slight treble imbalance - supported by measurements - and noted that Audeze fans would like them. In his follow up he did add the LCD4 to the Wall of Fame, and his remaining reservations about the LCD4 were in the context of a discussion of other high end headphones, all of which had (in his view) issues of one sort or another. And all of his comments, again, were backed by measurements and were balanced in their approach. This is not to say that Tyll was either right or wrong about the LCD4, but that his methodology was sound. He listened, he measured, he drew meaningful comparisons, and noted what would work for which types of listeners. That is very different from what we are dealing with here.
  2. Chris, I'm all in favour of controversial and honest reviews. There have been plenty of reviews over the years - including on this site - whose conclusions I have completely disagreed with, and yet I had no issue with the review. Reviews which come to unpopular conclusions, and which take a critical approach to products when others will not, are to be applauded. But as others have noted above, a bad review is not a matter of "it's just audio, no biggie" and you can say whatever you like, without consequences. A negative review has a major impact on someone's livelihood. A reviewer has a responsibility to the small businesses who predominate in this business to take care to ensure their reviews are well-considered. Reviewers also have a responsibility to their readers because they are influencing their expenditure of, in some cases, as with these headphones, a very significant amount of money. If the review appeared in the forum then it would not be an issue. People express strange and ill-considered views in hi fi forums all the time and it really is no big deal. But if it appears as a headline review for this website, or similar websites such as Audio Stream or Innerfidelity or in a published magazine, then the review is implicitly endorsed by the publishers of the website or magazine. Imagine if Stereophile published a review of Wilson speakers in which the reviewer borrowed a pair of speakers from his friend, gave a brief history of Wilson speakers, a few technical details and then concluded that his friend's Wilsons sounded "wretched", shrill, no bass, distorted highs and worse than the $200 speakers he picked up at Circuit City. Well, I'm sure your first thought is that Stereophile would never publish such a review, and you would be right. Because to do so would carry their endorsement, and putting their reputation on the line. A very negative review would only be published after it had been carefully peer reviewed by others on the editorial staff, discussed directly with the manufacturer, compared against other review samples (again, obtained directly from the manufacturer) and subject to detailed measurement, with the entire process published along with the review. To do otherwise would lead to readers questioning the credibility of the magazine. In this case, a review was conducted of a borrowed pair of headphones, with no direct contact between the reviewer and the manufacturer, and with no right of reply being offered. No supporting measurements were given, a second opinion was not provided. And yet the conclusion was extreme, simplistic and lacking any nuance other than that the headphones were just bad. Worse than bad, "wretched". An almost childish conclusion to a childish review. As I said, if this was on the forum, no one would have cared. But as it is a front page review on the site it carries the endorsement of Audiophile Style and this is why it is a question of judgement and of credibility for the forum.
  3. Chris, I didn't miss your use of "subjective", I was specifically responding to it. I'm very far from being an audio objectivist. But some things are just objective facts. The frequency response of a pair of headphones is one of those things. The Sennheiser HD800, for example, have a peaky treble - this is an objective fact. If someone reports that they have a rolled-off, warm treble, that would just be factually wrong even if that is their genuine opinion. "Distorted highs" for the LCD4z is a statement of fact. If there is distortion in the high frequencies it should be measurable, and audible to most people. But no one else has reported this. As it happens, I don't really care for the Sennheiser HD800S, and that is my subjective opinion. But I would never question that objectively it is a very good pair of headphones and has many strengths for a lot of people. I really don't mind that Sonis didn't like the the LCD4z. That is his prerogative. My objection is not to his dislike of the headphones, but to this travesty of a review. The conclusion that these headphones sound "wretched" and worse than cheap, entry level headphones is beyond ridiculous and calls into question the credibility of the reviewer and the venue hosting the review. I should add for completeness that I have absolutely no affiliation with Audeze, beyond owning and liking some of their headphones, along with many other brands.
  4. Of course someone can be wrong. It is subjective whether someone likes the headphones or not. But "distorted highs, muffled midrange and loose bass" are objective facts, not personal preference. And unless there is something wrong with the review sample - quite possible since Audeze disclaim all knowledge of it - this contradicts the overwhelming majority of user experience and reviews. In other words, it is just wrong.
  5. I cannot imagine what is wrong with Sonis's LCD4Zs to be able to review them this badly. I own a pair of LCD4Z. I also have the LCD4, and have owned the LCD3 and LCD-X. I have HD800s and have owned HD800S and Focal Utopias. I have three pairs of Noble custom IEMs and two pairs of JH Audios. I have some Mr Speakers Ether Flow. I have Sennheiser HD580s, 600s and 650s. I have owned more headphones than I can count over the last 20-30 years. The LCD4Z sound fantastic. I sold my Focal Utopia because I preferred the 4Z. Ditto the HD800S., The only headphones I like better are the LCD4, but they are not always practical because they are harder to drive. The LCD4Z sound nothing like the way they are described in this review. There is either something fundamentally wrong with the review sample or there is something fundamentally wrong with Sonis's hearing. In either case this should have been checked before it became a front page review on a reputable website.
  6. I've owned all the Chord DACs - DAVE, TT2, Hugo 2, and Qutest. I also had the Blu 2 with the DAVE and the M Scaler with the TT2 and Qutest. I've now sold them all because I have moved on to other things. However, I agree with the conclusion in this review. I think the Hugo 2 sounds noticeably better than the Qutest. I actually think that the Hugo 2 is the best sounding of all the Chord DACs. DAVE sounds thin. TT2 sounds small and hard. Qutest has a slightly astringent sound. And the Blu 2/M Scaler is massively overrated. The Qutest does benefit from a linear PSU and a power conditioner, and the optical input is the best sounding input. But the Hugo 2 still sounds better.
  7. You will get different answers but I have recorded a lot of vinyl over the last few years. I use an RME Babyface Pro as an A/D converter to record from my Kuzma Stabi Ref 2, with 4 Point arm and Dynavector XV-1S cartridge, and Einstein phono stage, and then stream through a Lumin U1 Mini to an Ayre QX5 dac. I suggest recording at 32 bits and either 96 or 192 and then downsampling the final product to 24/96 or even 16/44. I like vinyl but it is a low resolution medium and in my experience you will not hear any difference between replay at 16/44 and 24/384.
  8. I thought I would give one more update on the e32, now that it has had another month of use. In the meantime, I have also had the opportunity to compare it with two other - much more expensive - DACs, the Ayre QX5 Twenty and the Chord DAVE. The Ayre I borrowed from a helpful dealer for a week, and the Chord DAVE I ended up buying after hearing it in a dealer's system. In the thread I linked to in my first post above, the e32 was found to sound very similar to the Ayre QX5 Twenty, although the QX5 surpassed it when used with more revealing components. However, I found that the e32 was at a similar level to the QX5, with differences in presentation down to personal preference. I should add that this was using the Fidelizer Nikola power supply with the e32, which elevates its performance noticeably. The Ayre should in theory be better than the e32 - as I understand it, Ayre use the higher end 9038 chip instead of the 9028 in the e32, Ayre use proprietary filters and turn off most of the features of the ESS chip, Ayre have their own high quality internal linear PSU, and use a discrete output stage, instead of the opamp output stage of the e32. In practice, this results in a sound which is bigger and airier than the e32, very quiet, very detailed, and also a little fuller and smoother. I suspect that this is a kind of "voicing" by Ayre to ameliorate a little of the edginess for which Sabre chips are known. However, the Ayre was also a little less colorful; the e32 had slightly greater tonal saturation. While a bit leaner and less full sounding than the Ayre, the e32 was a little more focussed and perhaps just a notch faster. The Ayre was smoother, but possibly just a shade too smooth, while the e32 did not seem to gloss over any edges in the recording. I borrowed the QX5 intending to buy it, if it provided a noticeable improvement on the e32. But I found that, like much in audio, it was a question of trade offs and preferences. While the Ayre was better in some ways, from a purely sound quality perspective, on balance I preferred the e32. I can understand that others might have a different preference. But I did end up buying the Chord DAVE. I had all three on my rack for a week, with each one under a separate zone in Roon, so I could switch back and forth between them. As good as both the QX5 and e32 were, the Chord DAVE is on a different level to both. DAVE has a naturalness and a deeply satisfying sense of musicality that I have previously only got from vinyl. Both the e32 and QX5 came close, but could not quite match what the DAVE was doing. But DAVE is 5 times the price of the e32, and when you add the Blu2 transport (which I did, and which elevated it further), it is 10 times the cost of the e32, so you would expect it to be significantly better. But if I had not heard the DAVE I would now be happily living with the e32.
  9. A further update. When I said earlier that after 100 hours the e32 had fully run in, I was mistaken. With another 100-200 hours it is now sounding even smoother and fuller. I have also replaced the Teddy Pardo power supply with a Fidelizer Nikola. While I really like the Teddy Pardo power supplies and probably own half a dozen of them, I know that they can sound just slightly hazey, and this may not be a good combination with Sabre dacs, which already have tendencies in that direction. I had a suspicion that a different power supply may prove a better match, and I ordered the Fidelizer Nikola based on positive reviews. My suspicion proved to be correct, with the e32 now sounding a little more dynamic, and with a faint layer of haze now removed. I have also been doing some more extensive comparisons of the the USB input against the SPDIF input from my SOTM 200 and Matrix S SPDIF 2. A The latter wins convincingly. In isolation, the USB input sounds very good, but against the SPDIF input, it sounds a little grayer, and a little more blurred. With the SOTM/Matrix in the SPDIF input, the e32 sounds more colourful, instrumental outlines are more fully delineated, and it also sounds smoother and more liquid. Obviously, this comparison relates to my specific equipment, and may not be true for other sources.
  10. Because I already have the PC and the PlayPoint is a little too expensive to buy just to satisfy my curiosity.
  11. No, but I know George has read this thread, so perhaps he can offer some comments.
  12. Thanks, this is consistent with George's email comments. He said that the PlayPoint would be an improvement over a Mac, but that the "sonic fidelity would be identical" (his words) with a PC.
  13. HQPlayer seems to add a degree of complexity that I have been trying to avoid, particularly since I use both Roon and JRMC. But I will have to look into it to see if it is worth experimenting with.
  14. That was my understanding as well, which is why I haven't tried any usb isolation devices. Some more observations on the e32: it continues to be as musical and engaging as I found it initially. It now seems to be fully run in, since its sound has not changed further. There remains a distinctive Sabre sound - a slight dryness, a very slight grain, and a lack of sharp outlines to instruments and voices, which appear as a kind of overlapping cloud of sound. But there is also an immediacy and directness, a natural sense of timing and saturated tonal colours, all of which combine to give the sense of presence that I have only previously had from vinyl. But, despite its faults, vinyl still remains the benchmark, combining all these benefits with a greater sense of focus, tangibility and (at its best) sharply outlined instruments and voices. But the e32 is closing the gap significantly, and I find it hard to stop listening to it, it is just so damned musical. I can hear its faults (as I can with just about any device and any medium) but it just draws me in anyway. I also spent a bit of time last night comparing the usb input from my PC to the spdif input from the SOTM, and honestly could not tell any difference. I will need to do some more testing, but it looks like I will be able to remove one more device - the SOTM - from the rack (which is a good thing!). After emailing George Klissarov, it also appears that the Play Point should not offer any sonic improvement over a direct USB connection to my PC, so I will probably not get the Play Point, unless I decide to use the e32 in a different room.
  15. That's not possible, since exasound do not release their drivers to third party product manufacturers. However, I did try the e32 usb input directly from my PC using the exasound driver, and it does sound excellent. I haven't yet critically compared it with the SPDIF input from the SOTM, and will do so over the next week or so.
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