Bonus Notebook Impressions: Can Jam London 2016
Ether Flow/Ether Flow C
- The best planar I have heard yet for classic rock. Made details in Pink Floyd’s The Wall album much more noticeable such as the samples of television broadcasts and skidding tires.
- The open Ether had more of a sparkle to the sound, but I preferred the Ether C quite a bit more. Very little, almost unnoticeable different in soundstage between the two.
- Both didn’t reach any problematic level of treble extension while still being airy and pleasing – be it from the tubes of the Tungsten to the solid state Gold and Carbon.
- Really fast transients made imaging quite impressive. Panning audio was second nature to the Ether Flows.
- Overall quite clean sounding without bloat. By bloat I mean a certain overlap in the midrange and bass that can hamper detail overall. It can be fun with some headphones as a sound signature but it has its cost.
- Medium clamp.
- Very light.
- Good and clean bass response but not very extended.
- Pretty insane separation.
- Very natural acoustic guitar reproduction. (listened to God Put a Smile Upon Your Face by Coldplay.
- A lot of air around the piano in Coldplay’s the Scientist. Key hits ringing out clearly. Quite a live sound.
- Quite a bit of snap to the sound. Very resolving.
- Incredible cymbal clarity that doesn’t feel forced/artificial.
- Not overly warm but still pleasing. Not very bright either.
- Still has a lot of the Utopia’s strengths but not as pronounced.
- A very competitive price point considering the sound quality.
- The same natural sound as the Utopia.
- Brings stuff out in the mix in a similar manner, just not as high resolution.
- Dense sound, not at all sparse or lean but rather rich in terms of lushness and detail.
- Meaty sound, but treble not rolled off. Rather, it actually gets a little peaky in some places – a trait the Utopia lacks by comparison.
- Quincy Jones signature version of the K701.
- Was plugged into a Schiit Valhalla 2 tube amplifier.
- Quite a warm sound, much like the K7XX.
- Felt a bit more refined than the K7XX however but hard to determine by how much exactly due to the introduction of tube warmth and a noisy environment.
- Described as a relaxed V-shaped sound signature.
- Clean sub-bass, no bloat.
- Some good detail up top but, at times, peaky sounding.
- Quite good for warmer electronic genres such as 90s Eurodance.
- Comes in black and stainless steel.
- Quite a bit more resolution than the MA750i.
- Sounded more direct and immediate. More resolving.
- Still slightly V-shaped, but vocals were more pleasing.
- Good air around the instruments but not as peaky as the MA750i.
- A lot of separation and an expansive sound.
- T-series come with switchable filters for passive EQ. Didn’t try it myself but interesting sound-sculpting concept.
Sonoma WAT-H01/Warwick Electrostatic
- Insane attack. Each bite of vocal startled me in a Muddy Waters track. I kept turning down the volume because it just hit like a ton of bricks.
- Really fast transients.
- A lot of detail.
- Low end quite rolled off, but a full sound overall.
- A lot of snap, once again related to the attack as sound was just pushed into my ears suddenly – very resolving.
- Quite intimate soundstage. Could be compared to the HD600/HE400i level.
Vioelectric / Lake People HPA 281
- Really nice synergy with the Sennheiser HD800. Didn’t morph the sound as much as the Cavalli Liquid Tungsten, but it softened the edges while maintaining the Sennheiser sound.
- Solid state amplifier with a balanced output and three ¼ outputs.
- Had a very 1990s style remote that moved up the volume dial.
- Was some slight glitching/noise when moving the volume around. Representative told me this was intentionally done to make sure both channels are volume matched at all times.
- Overall a nice listen. Honest but a little musical (benefitting the HD800).
Noble Kaiser 10
- A lot of bass control.
- Quite comfortable.
- Very efficient, needed to turn smartphone down lower than half for a comfortable listening volume.
- Clean sound, not overly peaky.
- Listened to No Light, No Light by Florence + the Machine after switching to my Ibasso DX80.
- Vocals sound full-bodied. Harps sounded pronounced.
- Overall sound was pleasing and not harsh – quite musical with good detail.
- More detail but a tad harsher.
- Even more control of the low end.
- Listened to the delicate build-up of No One Is Ever Going to Want Me by Giles Corey.
- Every acoustic guitar rattle and buzz rang out clearly.
- Expansive sound and detail.
- Song had an ethereal pairing with the Katana.
- Key moment: a lot of control and resolution during the chaotic breakdown at the end of the song. The often-buried horn section in the mix rang out clearly.
Comparison between the Katana and Kaiser 10
- Kaiser 10 more musical with a touch of warmth. Less detailed than the Katana but still no slouch.
- Katana had insane control and resolution but a leaner overall sound.
Focal Listen (portable headphones)
- A lot of detail for a portable full-sized headphones.
- Some interesting marketing text on the headphones themselves. Quite congratulating in an unintentionally funny manner.
- Not a lot of bass, interesting choice for headphones on the go.
- Not much isolation either despite being closed. Still heard the show floor around me.
- Brought out the details in pop music quite well, vocal layering and all that. Just needed a touch more bass for listening outdoors as (without noise-cancelling or a good seal) the bass can be reduced by the sound of commuter vehicles like trains and buses.