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-   -   iSK Pro Audio = Low End Heaven ? (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/1030466-isk-pro-audio-low-end-heaven.html)

eldon2975 12th September 2015 01:22 AM

iSK Pro Audio = Low End Heaven ?
 
Products – iSK Pro Audio

Has anyone here tried those HD-9999 headphones ?

Kris.15Khz 12th September 2015 04:02 PM

We are the first ones to sell these headphones in North America, and they have only been available for about a month. Compared with other iSK Headphones, these are newer, and are the best quality headphone iSK makes, which is why they are the only model our store carries.

There's an interesting review of these on YouTube comparing them to the AKG k 271 mkII. I don't know what language it's in, I think it's Russian, but the comments are in English.


kidvybes 12th September 2015 06:44 PM

I haven't yet tried the headphones ("yet" being the operative word) but we use a few of the iSK mics in our studio and can vouch for their quality and value...currently we use the "2B Beauty" (tube condenser microphone), the "Little Gem" (SDC with interchangeable capsules), the "Pearl" cardioid SDC mic, and the DM-57 (SM57 style dynamic)...they all clearly perform above their weight (cost) class and their build quality is quite impressive...the 2B Beauty delivers a nicely balanced classic tube-mic vibe, without any of the typical edgy or bitey top-end common to mics in this price class...very smooth with nice mid-presence and works equally well on both male and female voices...a look under the hood reveals a classic simple plate-follower circuit employing nice German red WIMA caps, dual-bobbin transformer-coupled output and one of the newer, premium-grade Psvane dual-triode tubes...and the 34mm K67 capsule is a familiar one (same source as being currently implemented by much of the mic-modding community)...

IMHO, these mics offer more bang-for-the-buck than similar offerings from the big-box stores...they look good, sound real good and cost less than comparable products from the more familiar China-sourced brands...while popular in Europe and Australia for years, the iSK brand has had little exposure in North America...at these prices, I suspect that will soon change...

Now, about those headphones...
jkthtyrt

eldon2975 12th September 2015 10:32 PM

Yeah, those headphones. I've been stuck with my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's for 2 years now, I like them, but I want a more clinical/neutral sound. I'm almost set on the KRK KNS 8400's as an upgrade, but wonder if the HD-9999's might be a bang for the buck budget option.

http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCom...phID[]=533

I don't mind the modest (sub-)bass boost, but what happens above 1kHz is too much imo.

eldon2975 13th September 2015 04:24 PM

I just noticed that some of the mics on their webpage are missing specs such as frequency response. They should remedy that ASAP.

kidvybes 14th September 2015 12:45 AM

...couldn't resist giving the headphones a try...one of my favorites is the AKG K271 MKII, and it's no coincidence that the HD-9999 are so similar (same factory manufactures both brands)...at $79, shipping included (the K271 MKII go for $199) they're well worth a try...I'll report back after comparing...

...and I wish that video was in English, although it's clear the woman preferred the iSKs to the AKGs...

kidvybes 19th September 2015 06:10 PM

...just got the headphones and I can confirm, these are exceptional quality at such a low price-point...even before burn-in they sound much more open with a wider, more detailed soundstage than my $200 AKGs...very well-built, comfortable and complete with 2 sets of different ear-pads, 2 locking removable cables (straight and coiled) as well as a nice light-weight storage case...looking forward to putting these to good use...a steal at $79 (with FREE shipping!)...

eldon2975 19th September 2015 11:00 PM

Sounds great, kidvybes.

But would you call them 'clinical' and/or 'transparent' ?

Macky 20th September 2015 12:24 AM

Dont think any of these products are available in the UK yet. I can only find these. The iSK BM-88 looks like the Pearl..thats it. New products to come perhaps.
iSK Microphones from micsdirect
anyone knows if they are in Europe.

UnsatisfiedLlama 20th September 2015 09:21 AM

Recently purchased the iSK DSM-5A Drum Kit Microphone Set. I paid about $180 for them, they seem well built and sound great for the price.
Good for those of us on a tight budget. :)

kidvybes 20th September 2015 03:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eldon2975 (Post 11345440)
Sounds great, kidvybes.

But would you call them 'clinical' and/or 'transparent' ?

...I generally like to burn-in headphones or monitors before making any definitive comments, but I can say that the improvement in sound-staging and clarity (from my current AKG K271 MK II phones) allowed me to hear some detail in a mix I recently completed that I wasn't hearing before...the HD-9999's larger 50mm drivers may have something to do with that...

...last night, just to verify what I thought I was hearing, I took the HD-9999 to a local outdoor performance venue where an associate of mine (a very reputable FOH engineer) was running sound for a very dynamic rock trio...I asked him to evaluate them thru the digital console at the venue, and he was also very impressed (he normally uses Beyerdynamic DT 770 PROs in the studio)...he commented on the comfort and seal, as well as the clarity and open soundstage...

...when I wear this headphones for any extended listening, I forget I'm wearing "closed-back" phones...they seem to bridge the gap between open-back and closed-back for me...the only feature I miss from my AKGs is the auto-mute feature which mutes the headphone as soon as I remove them from my head...other than that, I'm looking forward to using these new HD-9999s as a reference source in my next mix project...

eldon2975 21st September 2015 11:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kidvybes (Post 11346759)
... I can say that the improvement in sound-staging and clarity (from my current AKG K271 MK II phones) allowed me to hear some detail in a mix I recently completed that I wasn't hearing before...the HD-9999's larger 50mm drivers may have something to do with that...

http://cdn.head-fi.org/b/be/bece4ec7_k271.png

Those AKG K271 MK II's seem to only be clinical/transparent between 90Hz and 1.8 kHz. Congrats on the clarity upgrade.

no genre 21st September 2015 07:04 PM

I just ordered a pair of the HD-9999s. At this price, it's worth a try. I'll post back once I've had a chance to use them awhile.

no genre 27th September 2015 04:11 AM

The HD-9999s arrived today, 5 days after placing the order. So far, so good.

After burning them in - within the next couple of days - I will post a review, fwiw.

First impressions are 100% favorable.

More in a couple of days.

no genre 28th September 2015 08:41 PM

I gave the iSK HD-9999 headphones 14 or 15 hours of play time to break in. Not sure if that's enough, but right now is when I can do this post, so here goes.

What a pleasant surprise these headphones are. You can visit their web site - linked in the very first post of this thread - to see all the goodies they come with, etc. Lots of goodies.

But the sound is what eldon2975, who started the thread, asked about. He indicated he has a pair of Senn HD-280 Pros, and so do I, so I'll relate some of this to those, trying to give him a benchmark. He also asked if the sound could be called "clinical." I have a few pair of headphones, and I suppose the pair which would come closest to "clinical" is my Shure SHR940 phones (one of the "cons" in a review on Amazon says " poorly recorded or mastered tracks sound bad"... not so sure that's a con, if you're looking for clinical), so I'll use those, too. Please remember, all of what I'm going to say is subjective, and only my opinion. I'll do my best, but I'm not much of a review-writer kind of guy.

I'll also say that when I mix, I use monitors and headphones... mostly the monitors, but I find headphones helpful in instances, and try to consider a listener wearing headphones during the mix process. So I'm not the person you want to trust for "headphone only" mix tips. For that matter, you should not think of me as a mix-tip person at all.

But the headphones...

These rascals serve up a really nice sonic stage. For anyone considering these for listening purposes only, the iSK phones are a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned. They have a very pleasant overall sound. The mids and highs are crisp, clean and distinctive (in that it's easy to distinguish one sound source from another). Compared to my Shure SRH940 phones, the HD-9999 lower end is a bit friendly/flattering, though. If you want them for listening to already recorded music, that's a good thing... if you want them as your only means of hearing your mix, you need to consider that, imho. And remember, I'm comparing the bass of these fine headphones to a pair costing almost 6 times as much.

As to how the iSK HD-9999 phones compare to the Senn HD-280 Pros: The iSK phones have a more pleasing sound stage, to my ears (would *you* interpret that as less clinical? I honestly cannot answer that), than the Senns. The upper mids and highs in the iSK phones have a more honest sound (which I do interpret as more clinical, and at the same time easier to listen to) than the Senns, to my ears. The bass in the iSK phones takes up more sonic space (I am NOT calling the bass muddy or muddled, or any such thing, just sayin it takes up a larger portion of the sound stage) than the bass in the Senns, which could potentially mask some subtleties in the lower mids, during mixing with the iSK phones. So, from my perspective, the iSK phones may be more what you're looking for in the mid/upper-mid to high for mixing, and the Senns may be more what your looking for in the bottom end. That's life, though: there are trade-offs in most things.

Now to the bang-per-buck quotient. In that regard, the iSK phones knock it out of the park, imho! If you're looking for an inexpensive set of closed-back headphones to wear for monitoring your recording, or for just listening to music, and this is your budget, then these are your phones, as far as I'm concerned. If you will be using them as your only source of listening to your mixes-in-progress, you make the call... I would not use these for that purpose because of the kindness of the bottom end and the potential of masking subtle parts in the lower mids. But, that's just me.

Having said all that, I love these headphones. They are pretty comfortable on my big head. They sound surprisingly good, and anyone - pretty much, I think - could swing a pair financially.

eldon2975 29th September 2015 05:37 AM

That was a thoughtful and detailed review by no genre !

Apparently, the iSK HD-9999 headphones might not actually be a clinical improvement/upgrade (for mixing & mastering applications) of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think they (iSK) are more noted for their microphones though :

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-...h-america.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

kidvybes 29th September 2015 06:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by no genre (Post 11366236)
So, from my perspective, the iSK phones may be more what you're looking for in the mid/upper-mid to high for mixing, and the Senns may be more what your looking for in the bottom end. That's life, though: there are trade-offs in most things.

Now to the bang-per-buck quotient. In that regard, the iSK phones knock it out of the park, imho! If you're looking for an inexpensive set of closed-back headphones to wear for monitoring your recording, or for just listening to music, and this is your budget, then these are your phones, as far as I'm concerned. If you will be using them as your only source of listening to your mixes-in-progress, you make the call... I would not use these for that purpose because of the kindness of the bottom end and the potential of masking subtle parts in the lower mids. But, that's just me.

Having said all that, I love these headphones. They are pretty comfortable on my big head. They sound surprisingly good, and anyone - pretty much, I think - could swing a pair financially.

Since in my studio, I specialize in tracking/mixing vocals, the fact that these HD-9999 headphones excel "in the mid/upper-mid to highs" makes them quite appropriate for my use...I also think that singers may really like how they sound on these as they monitor their own vocal performance while tracking...anything that inspires a vocalist during tracking sessions is a big plus in my daily routine...I believe choosing the right mic and monitoring headphones for a vocalist is critical in getting the best performance from them...

So, on the other hand, anyone tracking their own vocals may also find them equally inspiring as well...very comfortable, good sonic sound-stage, with minimal leak if any...at this price-point, they are clearly an outstanding value from my perspective...
kfhkh

no genre 29th September 2015 01:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eldon2975 (Post 11367296)
That was a thoughtful and detailed review by no genre !

Apparently, the iSK HD-9999 headphones might not actually be a clinical improvement/upgrade (for mixing & mastering applications) of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think they (iSK) are more noted for their microphones though :

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-...h-america.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi eldon,

Happy to find that you did see the comments. And I appreciate your kind words.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kidvybes (Post 11367338)
... anyone tracking their own vocals may also find them equally inspiring as well...very comfortable, good sonic sound-stage, with minimal leak if any...at this price-point, they are clearly an outstanding value from my perspective...
kfhkh

I agree with Kidvybes 100%.

kidvybes 10th October 2015 04:28 PM

1 Attachment(s)
...just a little update...after bringing my iSK HD-9999 headphones to a very popular pro studio (Dream Machine Recording & Co. - Florida Recording Studio) a few days ago for a vocal tracking session, the chief AE and his staff just placed an order for 4 pair for their studio...the headphones got props from the two singers that day as being both comfortable and sounding great as well as the engineering staff!...

...very impressive!

peachh

Puffer Fish 10th October 2015 05:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eldon2975 (Post 11329965)
I just noticed that some of the mics on their webpage are missing specs such as frequency response. They should remedy that ASAP.

The last time I checked, the "Little Gem" specs were listed on the web site. I had noted the same thing to Kris, whom I had a short conversation with. He immediately added the "Little Gem" specs to the web site. I am guessing that is all the information Kris has at this point. As I understand it, Kris is a 're-seller' of iSK products and probably does not have a lot of detailed information on the polar plots and frequency plots of the microphones.

The testing for that sort of thing is pricy, as I understand it, especially so for a retailer who relies upon quantity of sales. At $40 for a single 'Little Gem' that ships with three capsules, I can't imagine Kris's company is making much money off each sale. Therefore I have a hard time believing iSK Pro Audio will be in a position to have third party scientific testing done on the microphones. It is too bad, as I really do look at that sort of thing to get a clearer idea of what to expect from a microphone.

I can say, from the small interaction Kris and I have had to date, that Kris does indeed evaluate the microphones (and for the concerns of this thread---the headphones) his company sells and only sells the best of what iSK has to offer. If you find your way to the iSK web pages, as opposed to iSK Pro Audio (which is Kris's company) you will see a larger range of products listed. Kris has opted to NOT sell those other products through iSK Pro Audio---as he said (and I paraphrase) the products being sold through iSK Pro Audio are the best iSK has to offer.

I currently own a 'Little Gem' and a 'Starlight'. Due to my work load I have not had the opportunity to give them their due as of yet, but I am working on it. Initial testing indicates that these microphones offer excellent value. Even based upon my very preliminary testing, I have every intention of acquiring at least one more 'Little Gem'. And I must say I am VERY intrigued by the '2B Beauty'---that could be a really nice addition to the mic locker. And finally, I am very, very much interested in the 'RSM-1' 'Fathead' clone---at just $79.00, it is the very best priced new ribbon mic one can buy---Nady make the 'RSM-5' for the same price, but the iSK 'RSM-1' also ships with a shock mount and a hard aluminum case. Sheesh! I do not know how they do it, but I am glad they do. I am thinking about two or four of the RSM-1 microphones--they will be mod-friendly and one can't own too many tricked out ribbon mics! kfhkh

kidvybes 10th October 2015 05:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puffer Fish (Post 11396619)
And I must say I am VERY intrigued by the '2B Beauty'---that could be a really nice addition to the mic locker.

Surprisingly good tube-condenser LDC mic at a very reasonable price...we have one in the studio and it flatters quite a few voices...no hyped or harsh top-end...very even response...good detail and clarity...nicely built with a single-stage plate-follower circuit featuring German red WIMA capacitors and a nice dual-bobbin output transformer...Kris upgrades these with premium tubes too...this is one of those rare "good-right-out-of-the-box" tube mics...no need to mod (same nice 34mm K67 capsule as sold by the popular mod sites) or upgrade anything...and just to give you an idea of just how good Kris' prices are, here's a very similar model that is originating from the very same factory and branded for another line (and Kris upgrades the included tube):
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Galaxy-Audio...-/360973726113

The fact that iSK is the factory's own brand eliminates multiple markups...Kris buys at distributor prices direct from the factory, so that enables him to offer the best possible prices to his clients...and he's a stickler for quality-control...as you stated, he's clearly cherry-picked the entire iSK line, choosing to sell only the best products and at the lowest possible price-points...his business ethic is deserving of our support...I highly recommend Kris and his iSK line...we use quite a few of his mics and now his headphones in our studios...
kfhkh

Puffer Fish 10th October 2015 06:03 PM

kidvybes, this is not the first time you and I ended up on the same thread. I always respect your opinion on these things. I hope we will be able to meet in person someday and have a chance to geek out on audio gear! +++++ yingyang

kidvybes 10th October 2015 06:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puffer Fish (Post 11396661)
kidvybes, this is not the first time you and I ended up on the same thread. I always respect your opinion on these things. I hope we will be able to meet in person someday and have a chance to geek out on audio gear! +++++ yingyang

...the feelings are mutual my friend!...seems like I need to make the drive up to Nashville from S.FL one of these days to link up with some of the friends, like yourself, that I've made in that amazing musical community!...

peachh

TurboJets 10th October 2015 11:23 PM

I got to work with the Starlight some more over the past couple of days and was continually impressed with it for vocals (lead and background) and for acoustic guitar. For acoustic tracking this time I put the Starlight right beside a 4033 and actually prefered the Starlight. I've worked with a 4033 on many applications for at least 8 years now and was utterly shocked. The Starlight has a really nice color compared to the 4033, less self noise and the capture is just as detailed and has just as much dimension. The 4033 does have a higher output though, by about 5dB (I didn't expect that).

After hearing the Starlight and Pearl in action for several sessions now I'm ready to order their ribbon mic to give it a try.

no genre 10th October 2015 11:52 PM

I was so impressed with the HD-9999 headphones, I purchased one of their Starlight mics a couple of days ago. Not here yet, of course, but I am excited to have another fine piece of gear from the fine folks at iSK, on the way.

edva 11th October 2015 12:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puffer Fish (Post 11396619)

And I must say I am VERY intrigued by the '2B Beauty'---that could be a really nice addition to the mic locker. kfhkh

Quote:

Originally Posted by kidvybes (Post 11396649)
Surprisingly good tube-condenser LDC mic at a very reasonable price...we have one in the studio and it flatters quite a few voices...no hyped or harsh top-end...very even response...good detail and clarity...nicely built with a single-stage plate-follower circuit featuring German red WIMA capacitors and a nice dual-bobbin output transformer...Kris upgrades these with premium tubes too...this is one of those rare "good-right-out-of-the-box" tube mics...no need to mod (same nice 34mm K67 capsule as sold by the popular mod sites) or upgrade anything...and just to give you an idea of just how good Kris' prices are, here's a very similar model that is originating from the very same factory and branded for another line (and Kris upgrades the included tube):
Galaxy Audio St 834TL Tube Condenser Mic with Spherical Design Pop Fillter | eBay

The fact that iSK is the factory's own brand eliminates multiple markups...Kris buys at distributor prices direct from the factory, so that enables him to offer the best possible prices to his clients...and he's a stickler for quality-control...as you stated, he's clearly cherry-picked the entire iSK line, choosing to sell only the best products and at the lowest possible price-points...his business ethic is deserving of our support...I highly recommend Kris and his iSK line...we use quite a few of his mics and now his headphones in our studios...
kfhkh

+1 on the 2B Beauty, I haven't used it much, but have listened closely to it in initial testing, and I can't imagine you could find more sonic quality anywhere near this price point. IMHO the upgraded components really make a difference. The mic is as quiet and detailed as mics I've used costing much more. It is somewhat subjective too, I generally prefer the sound of a good center-terminated capsule, usually "bigger and warmer" to my ear. The transformer must be pretty decent too, given the cohesion in the mid and lower regions, and I am confident that the tube is indeed a very euphonic one as well, by the sound I am hearing. This humble mic at it's bargain-basement price really knocks it out of the park. Well done Kris, and ISK. IMHO.
PS oh yeah, the little pop filter works a treat! And the shock mount is better than average. Good stuff.

no genre 16th October 2015 04:18 AM

My iSK Starlight mic arrived yesterday. Both the HD-9999 headphones and now the Starlight mic arrived quickly. From Canada to the southeast USA. Soon as I have a chance to play with the Starlight more, I'll post thoughts in an appropriate thread. I can say already, though, the Starlight is a cool mic... I'm diggin it.

kidvybes 16th October 2015 04:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by no genre (Post 11410276)
My iSK Starlight mic arrived yesterday. Both the HD-9999 headphones and now the Starlight mic arrived quickly. From Canada to the southeast USA.

Same here...the 4 new pair of HD-9999 headphones for the studio arrived on Tuesday from Canada, sent Priority Mail...can't get much better service than that!...

kfhkh

jakeparshall 24th October 2015 06:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kidvybes (Post 11328293)
I haven't yet tried the headphones ("yet" being the operative word) but we use a few of the iSK mics in our studio and can vouch for their quality and value...currently we use the "2B Beauty" (tube condenser microphone), the "Little Gem" (SDC with interchangeable capsules), the "Pearl" cardioid SDC mic, and the DM-57 (SM57 style dynamic)...they all clearly perform above their weight (cost) class and their build quality is quite impressive...the 2B Beauty delivers a nicely balanced classic tube-mic vibe, without any of the typical edgy or bitey top-end common to mics in this price class...very smooth with nice mid-presence and works equally well on both male and female voices...a look under the hood reveals a classic simple plate-follower circuit employing nice German red WIMA caps, dual-bobbin transformer-coupled output and one of the newer, premium-grade Psvane dual-triode tubes...and the 34mm K67 capsule is a familiar one (same source as being currently implemented by much of the mic-modding community)...

IMHO, these mics offer more bang-for-the-buck than similar offerings from the big-box stores...they look good, sound real good and cost less than comparable products from the more familiar China-sourced brands...while popular in Europe and Australia for years, the iSK brand has had little exposure in North America...at these prices, I suspect that will soon change...

Now, about those headphones...
jkthtyrt


What would you say that they were comparable too? Mic wise? Say the starlight for example

kidvybes 24th October 2015 06:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jakeparshall (Post 11430050)
What would you say that they were comparable too? Mic wise? Say the starlight for example

...I have no experience with the Starlight...the few iSK mics I use are just nicely made, good solid performers that sell for less than their performance might suggest...not drawing any direct comparisons other than the obvious (57 clone)...

...love the headphones!