Good materials used in a poorly conceived way
I'm conflicted about these headphones.
On one hand they're the best headphones I've heard.
On the other hand, there are a multitude of design decisions made in these headphones that ultimately make me kind of scratch my head.
The Good. From most enjoyable qualities to less impacting qualities.
Accurate sound, the sound that these headphones introduce to your ears are pristine, crystal clear, I feel like no frequencies in these headphones stick out, I never get tired of listening to them. The bass is pretty weak, again, if you're a gamer, anemic bass isn't all bad. You generally don't need any help hearing the in-game sources that typically produce low frequencies because they get in the way of your awareness, what you want to hear is footsteps, the clickety clack of guns being reloaded and gunshots not grenades or atomic bombs. Otherwise if I had to categorize the music I enjoy listening to on these headphones, I'd say just about any natural sounding music, songs with excessive bass will become unbearably tame - these headphones could do bass better and that's about the extent of my sonic qualms here. I mean the bass is.. well I can't think of an adjective that describes "barely acceptable" but the point is - I can still enjoy a lot of techno or metal and what-have-you.. the bass isn't really bad but a lot of bass heavy songs aren't as outrageous on these headphones as I know them to be and that isn't necessarily a bad thing, 90% of actually good songs still sound amazing, 10% of the bass heavy minority of songs that are a worthwhile audio experience suffer a bad fate in these headphones, I might be able to listen to Meshuggah or Tool on these headphones, but I can't really enjoy it, Primus still manages to feels very flicky and impactful but part of me always wonders how much better could it be (or if at all would be?) with more present bass, but then I imagine scenarios where that bass just gets in the way, like, I'm not overly concerned with bass if I'm listening to Phineas Newborn Jr. or Lubomyr Melnyk, or reloading guns and footsteps.. regardless of how I feel about bass here I can't deny that these headphones have produced some of the most enjoyable sounds I've experienced on a headphone and these also happen to be my currently most expensive headphones.
Accurate soundstage, if you're a gamer you might often find yourself correctly locating audio cues that your friends (that you always assumed were competent) might not pin-point as accurately as you do with these bad boys on your braincage, but there are headphones out there that perform that job at a similar level to the CX's which "image" just about perfectly too, though finding them in a closed back design of an overall similar quality-level can prove difficult.
Doesn't Bleed, it doesn't bleed sound out of the headphone when you wear it but the moment you open the seal around your ear it bleeds out just like an open back headphone perhaps even with more heft, which really showcases how well it contains all that sound within its closed-back design.
Quality Materials and aesthetics, I don't have to tell you that this is made with nitinol and carbon fiber because people can't seem to stop talking about it, sure it's impressive and equally handsome, the headset looks like it's ready to set a record at the Nürburgring and it feels like it would survive any eventual collisions.
The Bad. - From most severe to least.
Hirose connectors, the metallic connectors that plug into the cans produce an annoying sound when you move around (walking) or even when stationary if you tilt your head or look to your side which is very noticeable at low volumes or during lulls in a musical composition or some other kind of media. I've come to genuinely loathe these connectors, they're like an ex that won't stop calling me, or like sitting down on a stone cold toilet seat in the morning - it has become one of the seemingly unavoidable unpleasantries of my life. This is my crux, these hirose connectors are beyond saving. They generate these noises because of little collisions between the little moving parts of the connector, and the amount of "play" between these moving parts and even the female connector and the headset itself. Nothing short of gluing the male into the female, and gluing the female onto the actual cans will likely stop this noise. Is there a functional benefit to these connectors I'm not seeing here? This seems like an unnecessary compromise, the cost is an occasionally clicking connector but what is the payoff? Even being able to detatch the cable isn't worth this price.
Height adjustment clamps, the clamps that adjust the height of the headband will sometimes hop or "skip" along the nitinol bands as if the clamps suddenly lose traction and regain traction, you can imagine yourself dragging your finger across a squeaky clean surface, if that surface is a guitar string connected to a cup and your ear is in that cup, you'll year a little *pop* as the guitar string transmits that energy of your finger doing a little "skip" across that string when it suddenly loses and regains traction. This occurs when I turn my head to either left or right, due to twisting at the cups because of how the trapezius displaces the area around the cup against my ear as the muscle flexes and extends - respective to which side I turn my head. I could go into further details about the likely construction-related causes and possible solutions, but the point I'm trying to get across is that an unwelcome sound occurs. I could see z-axial swivel joint circumventing the issue. This skip-pop sound happens infrequently compared to the hirose connector. Still, there are a multitude of cheap solutions that could have circumvented this. Even notched levels on the nitinol band that the clamps could rest on would stop this from happening, not to mention keeping compulsive users from continuously readjusting the clamp height.
Insufficient Pads, the earpads are thin, my ears feel cramped in these otherwise large cans, the earpads have also become noticeably compressed at the bottom area over the course of the eight months of semi-daily use (as of writing this, not bad really, even when the headphone is resting it gets clamped on, so it's pretty much compressed 24/7 from the time it leaves the factory). I don't like the pads one bit, their only redeeming quality is that they can be removed easier than they can be put on. Did I mention they feel clammy, because they do.
Uncomfortable, I've established that the pads on these headphones are of inadequate thickness, the clamping force (which is slightly tight but not really "bad") coupled with the already thin earpads, leaves very little ear-space inside the "listening chamber" it feels like my ear is pressed into my head, and my ear is otherwise in contact with the pleather on every facet of my ear. The lack of a secondary axial swivel joint somewhere to add a bit of free articulation means that pressure on the already lacking earpads will be distributed more unevenly. The leather strap is not to my liking, the texture is acceptable when my noggin is freshly shaved, but once my hair grows to a normal length, say an inch or so the grippy nature of the suede along with the rigid and thick nature of my hair.. well this combination seems to dig my stiff hairs into my scalp causing irritation, otherwise grippy and neat when I'm clean shaved though I would like to chamfer the edges of the leather strap, I think a padded and less grippy strap would be better for hairy situations. Like the pads, it gets a little point for being removable, but that isn't an admirable quality in any component.
Stiff and coarse cables, the cables due to their rigidity exacerbate (or at least increase the likeliness of occurrence) the unwanted sound the hirose connectors occasionally make (as the cables are stiff, they act with more leverage as the weight of cable causes the connector to rattle) and I can't help but to imagine that the hirose connectors would be less prone to shifting around and slapping around between the male and female, and the female and the cups if it were being acted upon by a more pliable cable with less leverage and weight. A less coarse outer-layer insulation would also result in less vibration from general motion that transmits to the cup structure resulting in noise, I could see a more pliable and lighter cable would also help.
Break-in, I don't really feel this is a big issue, I initially noticed artifacts in the form of pops and crackles as the diaphragm shook itself into shape which stopped almost entirely by day 2 but I read the manual beforehand which did briefly mention break-in period and thus I was mentally primed for that break-in period so it didn't really annoy me. The break-in is just a brief transient phase whereas the hirose connectors and lack of Z-axis swivel well.. those are here to stay. Replacing the pads and the cable will at the very least cost you additional time, money or in most cases both.
So to conclude, I would like to reiterate my first statement, I am conflicted.
They sound great.
They also make sounds that don't sound so great, so your options are:
Sit motionless in a corner.
Don't move your head around.
Try not to move the cable around too much (you're gonna have to breathe at some point)
Cease being irritated by trifles.
Just crank up the volume to drown out all the little noises.
You can get new pads and a headstrap if they bother you, amazing, but should I have to? I haven't done it yet, I don't know if pads will negatively impact the sound, seal or comfort of the product (I'm not an audio engineer, or any other kind) but I guess the great thing is that I can always switch back to the setup that I'm already discontent with, the downside: additional costs but possible salvation. I am reluctant to buy anything else from MrSpeakers but I know they have suede angled earpads. And my reluctance really stems from these headphones, these are my first MrSpeakers headphones and.. they are absurd.
This headphone seems like it's trying to deliver greatness and to an extent does, but is also trying to cuts corners in weirdly select and absurd areas and showcases bad decisions, the worst among them would be the hirose connector, the second would be the pads. It looks, sounds and feels like a premium headphone yet it has all these issues that affect the fundamental function of a headphone: producing sound - this headphone produces all sorts of creaking and clattering when it's not producing some of the best sounds I've heard. So when it's clearly so capable, why is it so marred by finicky and entirely resolvable problems? Why does it have a carbon-fiber backplate but a centimeter thick pleather earpad? Why does it have a very advanced planar magnetic driver, but it can't swivel on two axes - making things swivel is not some art long-lost to the ages (although it's been around for a long enough time to be forgotten to history or maybe even pre-history) it's fixable. quite easily fixable. This can't be incompetence this has to be straight up absurdity, right? How can a headphone sound this great, have this great a build quality and simultaneously have such simple issues that seem directly related to its construction? I can't imagine a more absurd juxtaposition, Is this creation meant to troll and enrage? This is the most expensive headphone I've purchased so-far and it met my expectations and then some, but my frustrations with it is growing - it's like a frustration-machine, I love it one day and I hate it the next. I am growing increasingly convinced (along frustrations) that it is not worth 900 dollars, if cash is leaking out of your pockets, well the question of value is entirely subjective and it may very well be worth it to you.
I find it analogous to a soured relationship between friends in that this headphone actually makes me resentful at times, and resentment has a way of cycling around until something gets kicked to the curb. Most of these flaws shouldn't exist at all, let alone in a 900 dollar headphone.