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-   -   Mastering vs Consumer DA for "HiFi" headphone usage (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/1316940-mastering-vs-consumer-da-quot-hifi-quot-headphone-usage.html)

Brent 30th June 2020 08:40 PM

Mastering vs Consumer DA for "HiFi" headphone usage
 
Recently I've been getting back into headphone listening at home. I picked up a set of Audeze LCD-4z, running them via a Prism Lyra 2 + THX AAA 887 amp. They're great headphones, and very detailed.

I was thinking about upgrading my converters & amp to something that has more detail retrieval while staying neutral. I started down the 'hifi' path, looking at things like Chord's Hugo TT2 & Dave + upscalers, but I also started wondering if something in the professional realm would fit the bill. I was also looking at the CraneSong Solaris and matching it with a Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp.

The consumer pieces seem wildly more expensive than the professional pieces, but I'm not necessarily sure that means 'better'. On one hand, I'm thinking I could go with a clean mastering converter, to hear more what the last person in the chain heard. On the other hand, the consumer pieces can add a bit of 'sweetness' to the sound, but that may deviate slightly from the final vision.

Forgoing the "try everything for yourself" stance for a moment, I wonder from a mastering engineer's perspective, is the mastering DA just a tool to you guys to ensure great translation, or would you also prefer such tools when consuming the music at home through hifi headphones ( or even speaker systems)?


Cheers

Ted brenn 1st July 2020 06:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent (Post 14831198)

The consumer pieces seem wildly more expensive than the professional pieces, but I'm not necessarily sure that means 'better'.

Indeed, it's not.

it's the market and the audience that's different. Prices are based on the ability to buy.

I mix on an active PMC IB1 with the Crane song Avocet monitor controller.

When I want to. check with headphones, the only one that gives me all the details I need is the STAX SR009 with its Stax SRM-353X amp.

I have tried almost all the "good" headphones available and I've never heard better

Brent 1st July 2020 08:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted brenn (Post 14832003)
Indeed, it's not.

it's the market and the audience that's different. Prices are based on the ability to buy.

I mix on an active PMC IB1 with the Crane song Avocet monitor controller.

When I want to. check with headphones, the only one that gives me all the details I need is the STAX SR009 with its Stax SRM-353X amp.

I have tried almost all the "good" headphones available and I've never heard better

If you were to sit at home and listen to music though, do you still prefer a mastering converter, or do you just use a consumer setup?

Ted brenn 1st July 2020 10:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent (Post 14833225)
If you were to sit at home and listen to music though, do you still prefer a mastering converter, or do you just use a consumer setup?

I never listen to music anywhere other than in my studio... ;)

Robb Robinson 2nd July 2020 04:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent (Post 14831198)
I was also looking at the CraneSong Solaris and matching it with a Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp.

I had the Solaris for over a year and have been using the HPA4 as my primary monitor controller and HP amp for over a month now. Both units are fantastic sounding and pair very well together.

The HPA4 is expensive but look at its specs:

THD < -125 dB (0.00006%)
SNR > 135 dB, unweighted, 20-20 kHz
SNR > 137 dB, A-weighted
Frequency Response - 0.003 dB at 10 Hz, -0.001 dB at 20 kHz
- 3 dB Bandwidth exceeds 0.1 Hz to 500 kHz
Output Impedance 60 Ohms
Output Noise < 1.9 uV at Unity Gain, 20-20 kHz
Maximum Input and Output Voltage, 20 Vrms (+28 dBu)
Crosstalk < -133 dB @ 1 kHz, -116 dB @ 10 kHz

There is currently nothing that measures better, and more importantly, it sounds that clean. It is the purest monitor controller Ive heard in 23 years of listening thru controllers. It is truly stunning and worth every penny imo (assuming you will be using it daily for years to come).

Brent 2nd July 2020 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robb Robinson (Post 14834874)
I had the Solaris for over a year and have been using the HPA4 as my primary monitor controller and HP amp for over a month now. Both units are fantastic sounding and pair very well together.

...

There is currently nothing that measures better, and more importantly, it sounds that clean. It is the purest monitor controller Ive heard in 23 years of listening thru controllers. It is truly stunning and worth every penny imo (assuming you will be using it daily for years to come).

Ya the HPA4 seems like it would be a great dual purpose box. I wonder how close the Monolith THX AAA 887 is to it? I have to imagine the Benchmark sounds better, but I wonder by how much. The other amp I was considering is the Headamp GS-X mini, but that probably has some 'slight' color to it.

Do you only listen to music through mastering converters ( at home for pleasure etc) or do you prefer a hifi setup outside of the studio?

Brent 2nd July 2020 06:08 PM

The HPA4 definitely has balanced inputs. They're rated at +24 dbu

Robb Robinson 3rd July 2020 12:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent (Post 14835044)
Do you only listen to music through mastering converters ( at home for pleasure etc) or do you prefer a hifi setup outside of the studio?

I try to limit my listening thru three systems that I know well: ATCs in studio, Bang Olufsen in the car and HifiMan headphones -> Arya in the studio, and Ananda BT elsewhere.

The Ananda's continues to surprise me. Never heard bluetooth sound so good, and close enough to my studio HPs that my confidence is growing high on them. I did emergency mastering on them while in the mountains a few weeks ago, and everyone ended up stoked.

But getting confident on headphones takes serious time IMO. I dont believe anyone who says they got along instantly with any headphones. You have to learn to correlate them back to your mains, and that takes time.

DBarbarulo 3rd July 2020 01:03 AM

Sky/wallet is the limit. At higher levels both consumer and professional merge. In my particular case when i'm not in the studio i need to disconnect from engineering mindset so i'll listen to music through the crappiest speakers i have around that may vary from a guitar amplifier (mono) to any headphone of fortune. If the "quality" drawer opens in my mind then i need to go back in the studio to use specific gear i'm accustomed to. Is rare for me to connect say Audezes to a player a phone at home. I always use different, non analytical stuff at home.