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Headphones, Personal Listening Gear Personal Listening at its Best

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  #1  
Old 12-13-2018, 08:15 PM
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robfine robfine is offline
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Location: Coral Gables, Florida
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Default Is that a symphony in my pocket, or am I just glad to see you?

Answer: a symphony. Or a jazz trio... or quartet. Or Keiko Matsui and Bob James. Holly Cole, live, even.

(Query from the audience: “what the hell is he talking about?”)

As I have posted on a number of occasions, I do a lot of business travel, have only daughters so get stuck at a mall more often than I would prefer; and so in addition to listening in my library I have several portable systems, headphones and IEMs.

Last year about this time I posted about getting Noble Kaiser Encore IEMs for Christnukah and just how magical they sounded. And now, broken in, even more magical. But as we were getting into this holiday season I was looking online for specials for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., and at of all places B&H Photovideo, I saw Westone Signature W80 universal IEMs. I remembered reading a couple of spectacular reviews for these $1500 micro-speakers. I wasn’t looking for them. But...seems I had one day left to order them for $999. And sight unseen and without audition, I ordered away!!!

I let them play for about 5 hours before doing any listening. Then one evening I plugged them into my Onkyo DP-X1 DAP’s single ended jack, grabbed a leash and took “Tiger” for an evening walk. I was not prepared for what I heard. The bass was not at all emphasized, yet when the lowest notes were played I could feel the bass through my whole body. Seamless transition to lower kids and then kids. The treble was extended and yet no sibilance. But more than these parts (and these parts were fabulous) was the whole. As I was walking my dog, it was surreal—a jazz quartet, or two grand pianos were right there- 5 or 6 feet in front of me. Not “like they were in front of me,” they were there. It’s been a week since that night and when I think about it it is like reliving a great concert that w as in a place with perfect acoustics. The Westones- just so highly recommended.

So what of the Nobles— that last year I went on about how fabulous they were. I wondered that myself. How could this be?How could the Nobles be magic and then just like that the Westones kick them to the curb. I had to know. So last night I brought both the Westones and the Nobles with me when Tiger took me for my evening walk. I started out with the Westones and familiar music— Keiko Matsui and Bob James [duet]: Altair & Vega; and then Holly Cole: It Happened One Night. The Westones were just as good, great sounding as they had been. I unplugged them and connected the Nobles to the 2.5mm balances jack. I paused a minute to wonder how I was going to react when my magical Nobles will be unceremoniously unthroned. I hit play and ... and...; and oh my god— they sounded just as good. A bit different but every bit as good. A touch “sweeter” sounding if I may. But like the Westones, magical, there... really being there!

It was like I had the opportunity to audition 2 of the world’s best speakers with really good electronics side by side. Sound different... of course. But sound great too. Just really great. I felt like I was privileged... privileged to be there auditioning 2 pair of some of the world’s best speakers, except in this case, 2 pairs of some of the world’s best “itty-bitty” speakers. Played on the Onkyo DP-X1.

The Onkyo is about $450-500 bucks I think. (I believe Ivan is now an Onkyo dealer). The Westones retail for $1500 (I got them for 999) and the Nobles for $1850 (I got mine for $1450). Here is the real magic. For just a smidgeon over $2,000, you (um, I) can be listening to world class sound, and be listening to it almost anywhere: in a car, on a plane, in the office... even walking the dog. It is really some experience walking the dog hearing sound that is well better than your listening room. For goodness sakes, it’s the holidays. For less than the cost of many decent power cords you have have the complete system— and it fits in your pocket!
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Library System
Bryston BDP-2-->Bryston BDA-2-->Prima Luna Dialogue Premium Integreted Amp. Oppo BDP-105D. Power: PS Audio P5, WW Silver Electra, WW Aurora. IC: WW Eclipse RCA, WW Equinox RCA. Digital: WW Gold Starlight AES-EBU, WW Platinum Starlight USB

Bedroom System (Headphones)
Logitech Squeezebox Touch (w Channel Island PS)-->Centrance DX DAC/Amp. Beyerdynamic T5p (Moon-Audio Black Dragon), Audeze LCD-XC, HiFiMan HE-500

Travel Survival Kit
Astell & Kern AK120-->Centrance Mini-M8 DAC/Amp and ALO Audio Continental (tube) Amp. Shure se535 Ltd with Moon-Audio Silver Dragon wiring, Beyerdynamic T70P with clear Pilot earpads.

Mall Survival Kit (1 wife, 2 daughters: you can only avoid the mall for so long)
AK120, iPod Classic 160, iPod Touch 64-->Ray Samuels Audio Shadow Amp. Shure se535Ltd, Monster Cable Copper Turbine Pro, iPad Mini
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  #2  
Old 12-14-2018, 03:42 AM
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bart bart is offline
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Default

Rob, I liked that!

And the title.... well ...
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Stereo: Hegel H590, Burmester 061 - 931 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers
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