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Massdrop x Fostex TR-X00 Ebony Headphones

Massdrop x Fostex TR-X00 Ebony Headphones

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Product Description
When the Massdrop community asked for a closed-back headphone that redefined price-to-performance expectations, the TH-X00 was our answer. Made in collaboration with Fostex, a brand that’s produced innovative audio gear since 1949, these headphones feature ebony ear cups, a magnesium alloy frame, and Fostex’s signature biodynamic drivers Read More
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diogo_alfaiate
29
May 17, 2018
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The Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 sound exactly as described by Tyll Hertsens and the audiophile community, so those looking for that sound signature will not be disappointed. I grew up with some old Denons from the same family as the AH-D2000, so I was already at home with these phones. The new Fostex are a vast improvement on the original Denon models. I have only tried out the Ebony version so really cannot say which cups are best, but these sound beautiful.
I will only add one thing to those reviews: I am a classical musician and concert goer, so I am very sensitive to timbre, particularly from acoustic instruments. So far, under $1,000 these are the only headphones that I tried that could actually convince me with a good reproduction of piano and strings (actually there are a lot of famous headphones that I've tried up to $5,000 that still don't do any justice to acoustic instruments, so this is a tough quality to get). Grand pianos just sound natural and we can hear a bit of the cabinet's warm coloration that is almost never heard on headphones. Strings sound lush and beautiful, and violins are sweet-sounding on good recordings. On most recordings violins do not sound right, so this might be a non-issue for most readers, but the Fostex make the poor recordings sound less terrible.
The Ebony cups are truly beautiful. Pictures do not do them any justice. They do not have a pronounced wood veil but are not ink black, either. Really a gem to take good care of.
Otherwise these are pretty much "old school" headphones. When you put these on you can definitely notice that they are the result of tweaking with an old technology: they do not have the detail, speed and accuracy of its modern competitors. Soundstage is comparatively narrow, "closed-back" style, and in some situations these phones are prone to distortion, even at civilized volume levels. The headphone industry has been making vast improvements on mid-priced models, so these days you can get very decent sound from phones around the $ 300 price tag (not to mention the permanent or recurrent discounts on so many models). There are many solid closed-back headphones in the market today, and open-back dynamic headphones are catching up with closed-back models on bass reproduction, while offering all the advantages of open-back design. Sure, closed-back headphones will always have the upper hand for absolute bass boominess, but that's not exactly an audiophile trait and can be had for much cheaper than the Fostex.
I bought some Brainwavz round replacement pads on amazon, both velour and leather. Not an easy fit, but they work. I wanted to see if the soundstage improved a bit. It did. I found that the oval shaped pads that come with the Fostex TH-X00 impacted the sound on two levels: first, they narrow the soundstage and give the headphones a more "in-your-face" attitude; second, they muffle the sound a bit, removing a bit of presence in the treble region. I didn't like the round velour pads, which decharacterize these phones' sound signature, but found the round leather pads quite an improvement. Alas, on poor recordings, that sweet sounding treble is gone... But I prefer to have a more accurate reproduction than one that sounds more "equalized", albeit sometimes prettier. Out of my vinyl player or my Revox A77, the Fostex sound flawless and absolutely beautiful.
Bottomline: beautiful, unique timbre from an old school pair of closed-back headphones. The wooden ebony cups are a true gem.
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diogo_alfaiate
29
Nov 4, 2019
So the X1 is worst than X2 ? Yes Which one sounds better to you at least ? To me, the X1 How is the Ebony on the bass and sub bass ? It's fine, nothing to write home about Is TR-X00 Ebony can be considered as bass king ? No I heard they will be discontinued and might be replace or something: I am not aware of those news What is H stands for again ? I don't know, it is part of Fostex's original naming Have you heard the TH900 and TH909 ? I haven't heard either of them. Which is a shame, would love to hear the new TH909, they must be the best of both worlds between open and closed back headphones. According to the impressions of most reviewers, if bass is your main concern you should listen to the TH900. You're welcome.
nick_t
199
Nov 4, 2019
That is the problem, most stores does not have headphone demo. Most cans are sold online. Also, if you want to buy something from audio related from DROP, you need to hear because you would not know. Our ears are different. They think reviewers represent our ears. FR graph does not really tell us much. So you cannot describe the bass and sub bass on the TR-X00 Ebony ?
Chatto
94
Dec 6, 2018
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Yuuuuuuummmmmyyyyy! If these are your first cans, then, why are you spending so much? Did you not see the HD6XX drop? Ok, the 6xx is hard to drive, but so worth it, so it's cheap price is just a down payment, because you will have to buy an amp, and then you'll try cheap stuff like the O2, then you'll probably try a schitt stack, before you get a tube amp because that's what everybody says, and they're right. Get the 6xx, get a DarkVoice, use it as a pre amp for the aune x7s, and enjoy audio bliss. Or, get the ebony th-x00s, which are pretty easy to drive, and be very happy. Like the other fostex th-x00s they're sexy AF and they're much more balanced than the purple hearts or the mahoganies. I tried other pads, but went back to stock, and run my ebonies through a DarkVoice pre amp, into a x7s, and this combo was the first time I uttered the word, "end game" (as if that really exists). Totally happy, and have to re-listen to every piece of music I own. Buy these otherwise I'll lose all the respect I ever had for you lol.
Cholly
94
Aug 23, 2018
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These are fun headphones, do not buy them if you are hoping to have a great high-end headphone to listen to music with and be very analytical. If you don't own a pair of HD 600/650/6XX/660, DT 990, or M40X etc, please buy one of those first, just having a good sounding pair of base headphones to really know well is a step you shouldn't skip. I love listening to my 6XX (650 broke) as a daily driver, it's great to just be familiar with a pair; and then I get a fresh feeling when I switch to the TH-X00EB. These really should be targeted at the same people who enjoy tube amps for similar reasons, they are just fun sounding. If that is what you are looking for, in a lot of ways these are budget TH-900 (but you will never get the beautiful hand crafted cup).
With that out of the way. Did I mention these headphones are fun? They aren't flat, but that's not a bad thing (until 10k). The TH-X00EB are definitely V shaped but not to the point where you feel that the mids are missing. The mids are clearly not the showcase of these headphones though, the treble and sub bass are what these headphones are trying to show off.
The Bass: For the amount of bass it's still really firm and well tamed. The bass is a little overpowering, but it's also fun. I highly recommend "Why So Serious?" off of the Dark Knight album, when you get to that point in the song, you'll know. The mid bass is actually one of my favorite parts of the headphone, it's really clear and detailed. Bass guitars will really pop. I personally like older rock on these headphones because they don't have excessive bass in the recording, but these bring out some extra details. Finally, the bass is overpowering for competitive gaming, but it's oh so fun and satisfying, in Overwatch play as Pharah and just let off a couple rounds, it makes it sound like you are unleashing a micro nuclear rpg when your rockets explode. Overall, these are bass canons, but this is the difference between a shotgun and a sniper rifle, Beats just pour a lot of bass in to rattle your head but don't care about the fine points of bass and keeping it together when the going get rough, the TH-X00EBs are just as loud but are directly hitting their mark every time, every solid thump is short and round and the mid bass is smooth and contained.
The Mids: These headphones boast a very full bodied mid range. I find them to really excel right in the "Trumpet" range, where we flirt between the mids and highs. On the lower end I don't have a problem with the headphones, but honestly I feel like the mids are really good, but get covered up by the V shape sound, which stinks because I think if these would have a slightly more elevated mid level, these would be my perfect enjoyment headphones. The mids are tactile but do have a little rounding of the edges. These headphones really make the song "Paint it Black" from the Westworld soundtrack really pop. On this song in particular I think the soundstage sounds better than on most songs and the V shaped sound actually brings out some of the more hidden elements.
The Highs (and Really High Highs): The highs are surprising and clear. These headphones can survive songs that really abuse the whole spectrum without losing the highs clarity. These sure aren't HD800, but they are still very clear. "Epilogue" on the La La Land soundtrack really comes alive on these headphones and allows you to get away from the bass that these are known for and really enjoy how fine the highs are. However, the clarity of these headphones is also sharp and somewhat fatiguing. Even worse, there is a solid 10K spike, "Not Afraid" by Eminem can practically be unlistenable, and that's pretty unacceptable for a $500 headphone. And that's all really disappointing for these headphones that are really close to being epic enjoyment headphones.
- Use Cases - Gaming: Casual or Single Player: these are awesome, you may want an EQ if the bass is too much, but you may end up craving the sub bass from time to time after wearing these headphones in epic battles. Competitive: You can, the highs are good enough, but the bass is really strong and sound stage could be better, there are better options.
Music: Song by song basis. Rap songs and well recorded dance tracks are definitely what these headphones were made for. But imperfections will be just as clear, you may become addicted to only listening to the FLAC versions of songs because high compression destroys these headphones, they do not forgive. I also appreciate classic rock on these songs because I prefer the slight bass elevation on those songs. I would not recommend these for classical fans but they aren't bad, just really distorted.
Movies: These are pretty great. I wish the sound stage was a little wider for movies but it's enough to still get a good rating for movies, definitely better for movies than music, but not as good as casual gaming. They have a movie theater like quality with their sub bass.
Recording/Mixing: Lol. nope. However, I would recommend using these to check your mixes periodically. As I mentioned before, these headphone will amplify mistakes. A lot like the MDR-7506, if you have problems with your treble, you will not be able to hide. It also will keep your bass in check so you can have a good set of sub bass headphones to make sure you're not going to blow up people's sub woofers.
Construction Quality: Very solid but I still coddle them in transportation with a Pelican case. The hinges feel strong but can be changed very easily. The headband feels like the weakest part of the headphone. The cable is attached, but it's a solid quality cable, but I will consider modding these to make it detachable, this isn't an issue with the new model.
Overall: Please note that each pair is slightly different because of the wood cups. You will either really like or REALLY HATE these headphones. I hope this review let you know which person you are. These are definitely not competing with a vast majority of headphones, even those with V signatures won't have as much sub bass as these. If you like the idea of what I've said but are unsure about these then I would really recommend the original TH-X00 set, and not the EB, those are really good sounding as well but not as extreme as these (PH are very different all together). I don't have a good tube amp anymore but I imagine these would pair very well with that. These don't need a lot of power to drive, but the do need enough to sound good. 4/5, if you think you'll really like it you probably will.
My Setup(s): JDS Labs EL DAC + EL Amp Massdrop x Grace SDAC (O2 + SDAC Combo) + Alex Cavalli LCX & CTH Pads: ZMF Universe Lambskin (Also have the Dekoni Protein) If you have off center ear openings you will need attenuator rings.
Cholly
94
Sep 13, 2018
I honestly can't remember the sound of the PH since I only tried them on my friend's pair but I already owned the EB. All I can remember for sure is that the PH has a wallop of bass, I didn't go through my normal testing playlist though so I never got a real sense of the highs.
https://cdn.head-fi.org/a/8950332.jpg - Frequency graphs of the three th/r-x00 cups https://www.head-fi.org/threads/fostex-x-massdrop-th-x00-review.788776/page-486 - thd of the three is on this page at the time of posting
You'll find reviewers are torn between loving and not loving the the PH and EB, I find I fit more into what Metal571 likes, but Zeos has quite a following. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_0USICycbE - Zeos Review of the PH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pFM_hW33bw - Metal571's review of the EB
Cable wise, you will be able to buy after market cables but they aren't cheap, the fostex connection is the same as the one on the th900 and th610 (so I'm told), the connector is built to last but it's not very popular across the market so you would probably be buying the cable just for these headphones, which can run you up another $100+ if you want to get a fairly nice cable.
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A community member
Oct 31, 2019
BASS! Learn to spell basic audio words, please!
anort3
176
Mar 17, 2019
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I've had these a year now so it's about time I reviewed them. TL:DR - Buy them. Be happy! I bought these after already owning the TH-X00 Mahogany and loving them. But I only like them with certain music and I found myself genre pairing quite a bit with them. Always in the back of my mind was the thought, "wow these would be perfect if they were a little more neutral." I was right! The Ebony, to my ear is more nuanced and more neutral ( for a Fostex driver ) and it really works with anything. From classical to metal to EDM and everything in between. In fact the Ebony is the only headphone I own that I DON'T find myself genre pairing with. The sound signature has been reviewed better than I can ever describe so I'll just point you at Metal571's youtube review. I concur with that review 100%. I use my HD598s for gaming and just basic computer use. For music the Ebony gets used ~50% of the time if not slightly more. That's the most praise I can give it. And that's after owning it for a full year. Everything else makes up the other 50% with the HD600 and Elear being tied for second place. Currently have HD598, HD600, HD650, TH-X00 Mahogany, TH-X00 Ebony and a Focal Elear. Desktop sources are an Asus Xonar STX, Mayflower O2/ODAC, Topping D30 > Aune X7S.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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diogo_alfaiate
29
Oct 31, 2019
Hi, thank you for this review, I found it very helpful. I own the Ebony version but I listen mostly to classical music and was wondering whether the Mahogany version would be a better match. What do you think?
anort3
176
Oct 31, 2019
No. If anything the Ebony is better for classical in my opinion as it's less colored and more neutral. But neither one of these would be ideal for most classical. I think these Biodynamic drivers are better matches with more modern genres. For classical something like an HD600 or K701 would be better. Maybe the Elex or DT1990 Pro at a little higher price. Or the HD800 as an even further step up.
zenbert
163
Sep 17, 2018
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Guys - here's the short version; buy one of these. I have the ebony one but I suspect these Fostex headphones, irrespective of the wood finish/sig have similar, excellent build and sound quality. Folks weren't kidding when they say these pack good bass. I would say that's true and the wood probably help resonate the bass; it's this latter bit that really made these shine IMO. It's not enough to have the punch. ;-) Before I got my Fostex, I was a skeptic being a headphone junkie with Audeze (LCD-X, 3), Senn. HD820, Focal Elex/Elear, Beyers DT1990, M&D MH40 and even the E-MU. I thought these were over priced set of cans even at ~$500 that probably had too much bass and not enough soundstage, etc. etc. Now I got these at the same time I bought the HD820 because where I work can't have the sound pollution going. After receiving these I was a bit shocked how good they sound. Though still breaking them in after a couple of weeks of sporadic listening, this set of cans have become one of my favorites. At the moment a lot DJ, dub, heavy instrument/bass and electronica--things to keep me moving. The bass reverberates the low end really well--nice wood? It is deep and punctuated--pretty fast too. The highs are clear and more striking then the Audezes to me. The LCD3 is still more sublime for vocals and across the range. However, the net result is a set of cans that matches superbly with pretty much any DAC/Amp combo I use. Kind of your run of mill solid performer. It is definitely an engineered sound piece. The Audezes and Senn require more attention and rewards the listeners. The Fostex just kind of hit you and left and right and keep the beats going without embarrassing itself by any stretch. My set of Fostex doesn't sound much different to me whether I put it on my fireflies WA7 or the liquid LCX+SDAC, or the mojo, etc. Partly I think it's my attitude about throwing the heavy music at it, but nevertheless the clarity and soundstage are pretty damn good! Sure the LCDs and HD820 are better at picking out the fine details and more neutral for tuning your own sound, but when I'm just hacking code or casually doing something but want some music, the Fostex is ready to get in gear. I'm so impressed with the TR-X00 that I'm wondering how good the TR 900's are. There are two things that I want to fix with these cans: 1) the pads aren't the most permeable; I get sweats on long listening time, 2) I need another cable -- either short or balanced would do. Construction wise the headphone is well finished from the swivel cups to the headband to the polish of the cups. Nicely done! Yea I think Massdrop delivers again! For what I paid for, these are definitely good value. Just give me options of to get another cable and pads without having to fish for them separately. Disclaimer and thoughts -- love and analysis of music is very personal. We all hear things differently and at different times. Try different products out and sit on them awhile if you have questions and not sure. I would have skipped a couple of purchases if I have done that :-)
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Hyde
922
Dec 4, 2018
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Ok I've had this headphone for a few months now and I figure now might be a good time for me to write the review. Prior to buying this I already own the Denon D2000, TH-X00 Mahogany and E-Mu Teak, but they all have their pros and cons and none of them is perfect. Eventually I stumble upon this where it's suppose to be the best variant of all the Fostex headphones (exclude TH900 I guess) and all the review I read points that this is their favorite variant. So I took the plunge got the headphone. Is it as perfect as I ever hoped for? No, it also has its fair share of pros and cons lol. Is it bad? Very far from it, but let me elaborate. It definitely is a little bit over hyped relative to all the raved reviews I read. I think all of the Fostex variants are good at different things and therefore making them more different than each other than better than one another. Ebony - By far the most technical out of the bunch, very good separation and imaging and very clean sounding. The trade off is that sometimes it can sound a bit "cold" and not enough energy/warmth/bass for my taste. Sound stage is good. Mahogany - In contrast this is a very warm headphone compare to the Ebony, guitar/piano/string instruments/vocal in general just sound very great and lush. Tonality wise this probably my favorite, it has just the right amount of treble/vocal/bass. However its downfall is the worst sound stage so sometimes it can sound like a wall of music in your face and lose focus. E-Mu Teak - This is the odd one, I'm still having trouble placing where this should be. It sort of does everything well but not the best at any of them. It has the warmth of Mahogany, it has the bass, it has all the micro details, it has the sound stage, but imaging is a little bit odd and not very precise. Vocal is also the most distant out of the bunch, which was a huge drawback for me since I like intimate vocal, also sometimes it has this "distant feel" even if you crank up the volume, it's almost as if someone is singing really loud but in the next room. I think if you listen to jazz or instrumental stuff this would be a good pick. Denon D2000 - This is the funny one, this is actually the first one that I got out of all these, and it's also the cheapest one. I was looking for an "upgrade" but what end up happening is that I realize all of them have faults and in the end even though D2000 has its own fault too but as a whole package I still prefer this the most. This has the best sound stage and tonality sits in between Ebony and Mahogany, which is just the right amount of clean/precise while still maintaining warmth and fun. It also has one of the lowest subbass out of the bunch. If we gonna pick on it I'd say it's not as detailed as the other variants. But as an overall package I find this the most enjoyable to listen to. It gives you that "you're surrounded by music" type of feel. So which to pick it would depending on what you're looking for. There is no "one headphone for all" but for my own preference I like D2000 the best follow by Mahogany. Hope this helps you guys decide if you're ever in the market for any of these.
Hyde
922
Mar 21, 2020
Definitely not E-Mu Teak LOL, E-Mu Teak's strength is string instruments. I would say between Mahogany and Ebony FOR ME I personally like Mahogany better but most people would probably recommend you Ebony. I like Mahogany's vocal better but the treble might be too much for some (I'm very treble tolerant so it's perfect for me). Ebony have smoother treble so this will less likely to be a problem but I find the vocal sounded further back in the Ebony's. So it's kind of toss up, Mahogany is warmer and richer in tone while Ebony is cleaner and colder and more precise. For EDM Ebony probably would be ok but I didn't like it for rock music lol.
Special_T
12
Mar 21, 2020
Thanks!
lazner
11
May 13, 2019
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These are awesome. Had them for 2.5 years now, still picking them up more than my Focal Elex, Grado GH-1 and HiFiMan Sundara. The sound was a bit shouty around 6kHz and had some dip around 3kHz. After applying Oratory1990's EQ presets (Google his reddit threads to get the presets) the response is pretty much flat with that awesome bass and sub-bass response, unrivalled by anything else I listen to. Great for any music genre, still a pure HipHop, Trance a Jazz excitement.
JoanDelilah
9
Aug 2, 2018
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A very _very_ worthy companion to my T1s.
Soundstage is indeed "intimate"; that's really a perfect description.
Vocals are very forward. Bass is gorgeous and lush and yet still tight. Subs are very impressive.
These are not transparent. They have a distinct color, and it's an extremely pleasing one. A really really pleasant personality if you will. Which, again, is a great break from the extreme realism of the T1s I usually use.
Also; gorgeous. Very pretty. For the money, I am thrilled.
(Note: I burned them in for about 24 hours before giving them a serious listen.)
MXRC
248
May 2, 2018
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Let's go through the gamut of awesome things to say about these. I'll save the sound for last.
Build: The ebony wood is exquisite. I like that its subtle. The wood grain is visible on closer inspection, and appears glossy black from a distance. Some may prefer to have a more prevalent wood grain, but to me, it's perfect. The metal construction is done well. It is premium. All the materials used are high quality and it is a very solid pair of cans. There are no rattles or squeaks as you adjust them on your head or head bang to your favourite tracks.
Comfort / Ergonomics: Calliper pressure is descent. It provides a secure fit and feels very comfortable. The oddly shaped ear pads are surprisingly nice and not awkward around the ears. It's weight hasn't been an issue with me. This is one of my lighter, HiFi headphones. They're lighter than a pair of Beyerdynamic T1. Its lightness has a lot to do with the headband design and its ability to balance the weight on your crown without any uncomfortable pressure points. The cable is a bit long for my listening situation. Thankfully, it's easy to mod and use the excess cable as an extension. I would've wished some form of removable cabling.
Style: These are big, as with most HiFi headphones. Proportionally, they look great. Their size is apparent once you put them on. I can't foresee many people using these on the go.
Sound: These sound amazing. It has a very approachable sound signature. It's not for reference, although it has the flattest response out of the three versions of the X00. The bass and high frequency extension is pretty impressive. It renders sub frequencies with ease and clarity. Bass is tight, fast, and clean with no perceivable bleed. Mids are tuned nicely to form a little bit of that smiley face EQ that make these really pleasant to listen to. Highs are present, airy, and sibilant free. It's a really clean, crisp, and enjoyable sound signature. This is one of my favourite headphones in my collection. It easily sits in my top 3.
Additional: I decided to try out some Dekoni pads with these. I took a stab at a pair of Dekoni fenestrated pads, and I immediately realised how crucial the stock ear pad design is to the sound signature. Opening the area where the pinna sits introduces a lot of piercing highs and sibilance. Dekoni makes attenuation rings to combat this and bring the tuning closer to stock sound, but I found that it doesn't do enough to the highs to really make a difference. I'm going to stay using the stock pads.
JMac30
0
May 24, 2018
Hey if you’re interested in selling them, send me an email jrmccloskey15@gmail.com
Hyde
922
Jun 6, 2018
I had to thumb up this comment just purely on Megaman reference LOL.
WALRUSWHISKERS
49
Aug 1, 2018
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Wow, these are pretty to look at! Luckily that's just one of their great qualities. I have all 3 of these (purpleheart, mahogany and these) and I like this one best. It is a closer to neutral than it's siblings. It's not T1, HD800 neutral and that's a good things. These are a lot of fun listening to. They aren't fatiguing and they sound closer to a real speaker than most headphones. These aren't lacking in bass by any means, but they aren't the bass canons the purplehearts are. They seem to work well with any music type.
I would recommend any of these headphones to be honest. They all are different enough you could stand to have all 3. Fostex did a really great job on these. After the issues with the first run and the bubble wrap problems, I was worried. However they have definitely worked out the kinks. The removable cables are a nice touch as well. In this price range, you really cannot beat them.
anort3
176
Oct 4, 2018
I can't think the single ended ( 1/4" ) output is terrible ( or indeed bad at all ) with the LCX but balanced exists for a reason. Almost all balanced amps I've seen put out their full power through the balanced connection and not the single ended output. The balanced connection on my X7S increases stereo separation and soundstage over single ended.
Cables will be somewhat headphone specific. It comes down to the connectors. Cables that fit the HD6XX/HD650 will also fit the HD600 and HD58X etc.
The TR X00 needs a specific cable with the Fostex connectors. It may benefit less from a balanced connection than the Sennheisers as its impedance is so low but it is worth trying. I have the older, fixed cable TH X00 Mahogany and TH X00 Ebony so I can't swap cables. If I had the newer TR X00 I'd get a balanced cable just to try at least.
Hyde
922
Oct 13, 2018
Lol I cave in an bought the Ebony! I previously already had Mahogany and E-Mu Teak.
I just listened to it brand new out of the box last night, oddly enough I find it more bassy and vocal sound further away compare to the Mahogany, which is the opposite from the reviews I read. Also bass seems a little bit muddy compare to the clarity of the Mahogany too.
Some people recommend burn in for 100 hours do you think that would help? Or could it just be that I'm the odd 1% that actually like Mahogany's signature better? (Every review I read seems to like Ebony over Mahogany)
Though sound stage is definitely better on Ebony. You can hear the depth and layering much better.
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