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Aisnikkor
12
Aug 8, 2018
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Initial impressions of this headphone are outstanding. Unfortunately at the moment I do not have my headphone amp handy, so initial impressions are playing apple lossless files though a Dragonfly Red, comparing with my HD700's using tracks I am very familiar with. Volume on the DF Red is maxed, which produces a satisfying listening level on both sets of headphones, but more headroom, let alone an amp with more juice, would make this a better test.
The difference from the HD700 is pretty significant - the Elex seems tighter across the board, with a more airy top end, cleaner bottom end and just a more cohesive sound across the board. The Elex has a more open, effortless sound to it than the HD700. Hard to make too many judgements without listening on better gear, which will come soon, but HD700 is left behind for the moment.
I have an Oppo Sonica DAC, and a DV336SE is on order from MD, shipping early September. I plan already to mod the Darkvoice, parts on order, tubes coming too. I have an RSA SR-71A portable amp here somewhere but I cannot find it at the moment (kicking myself!) Looking forward to some good listening in the near future on the Elex.
I've progressed from K702's to K712's to the HD700's, and now the Elex. HD800's have been a goal for a while now, as I know by reputation that they fit my musical tastes (Orchestra, chorale, jazz, acoustic stuff). Pretty sure the HD700's may be up for sale soon to help get the HD800's, but Elex will be staying for a while :-). It would be interesting to hear from people that have had a chance to compare the Focals to the HD800's.
I will post a follow up when I have more time on these brilliant headphones.
Update: DV336SE came in early, got it running last night with the Sonica and the Elex. After swapping tubes for some old RCAs that I picked up in anticipation of running the DV, I was off and running. Going through a number of my normal test tracks, the thing I realized was that I was listening to a number of them right through the end of the track, the enjoyment level was so high. Also, did not touch the HD700s at all. More to come, working on mods for the DV next...
Aug 8, 2018
Manbear
236
Sep 3, 2018
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Any updates on Darkvoice and Elex? What mods specificall? Do you find that this is a good pairing although DV is generally recommended for higher impedance?
Sep 3, 2018
Aisnikkor
12
Sep 4, 2018
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I have had some time in on the Darkvoice 336SE with the Elex and I am very happy with the combo.
Mods to the Darkvoice so far are the Fitz mod (bypass caps on cathode resistors to deal with hum issues on certain tubes), and I changed the coupling caps from the 3 10uf red ones on each channel to a 100uf Mundorf non-polar electrolytic together with a 1uf Mundorf Evo Oil . Also swapped a couple of resistors for higher grade ones (PRP's). Cannot comment too much on the effects of these upgrades as I did not get a lot of listening time prior to doing the changes. I'll be using the Darkvoice with the Elex (80 ohm imp.), HD700 (150 ohm imp.), and HD800 in the future so the ~100 uf on the couplping caps should be enough to keep the bottom end extended with these headphones.
Regarding the Elex vs HD700, I have stopped listening to the HD700 at this point, the Elex is just more of a pleasure to listen to. HD700 sounds closed or compressed in comparison to the Elex on most acoustic stuff that I am listening to. The HD700 is not a bad headphone at all - if I was just listening to it without comparing to another headphone, I would be enjoying my listening time. The Elex is definitely a step up though. As an observation, the change from AKG K702 to K712, or from K712 to HD700 was really more of a sound signature, or presentation change than any serious change in quality of sound. The change from HD700 to Elex has been a definite, noticeable increase in quality of the sound I am hearing, in addition to presentation and sound signature changes. The Elex is just so open and at ease wth acoustic music.
The pairing of the DV amp with the Elex has also been very good. This is as good as my home headphone setup has sounded so far. The Darkvoice has a forgiving nature for a lot of recordings that I would normally be reaching for the volume knob due to treble harshness. Now I am not finding the need to do so with this amp. Even though it takes the edge off of these types of recordings, it is not dark or closed sounding - detail is very good, and complex fast passages come across very cleanly. This is my first tube amp, so I am new to this type of amp, but I am really liking it so far. Running it with an RCA 6AS7G power tube and Shu Guang CV181 Treasure tube. Oppo Sonica Dac for a source.
HD700's will definitely go up for sale to help fund HD800's, and I may look at a new DAC at some point as well. For now I am really enjoying the music...
Sep 4, 2018
Manbear
236
Sep 4, 2018
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Great to hear. I love The Elex as well however I have not found the right amp. Currently I notice the same treble harshness issue. I noticed that my Bottlehead Crack tames the treble to a more enjoyable/tolerable level and notably warms up the sound but creates loose, somewhat sloppy bass. This, I assume, a result of poor dampening with the relatively higher output impedance of the Crack, which is also an OTL tube amp. I’m not nearly as familiar with the mods that you speak of, but know my way around soldering PCBs. I’m curious as to whether any of those mods are intended to help prevent the issue of sloppy, loose bass like I experienced with the Crack. Do you find that the DV would pair well with Elex in its stock configuration? It seems that I read so many places that it is nearly sinful to pair anything besides 300+ Ohm headphones with an OTL amp. I just cannot get myself to enjoy solid state much after using primarily tube amps.
Sep 4, 2018
Aisnikkor
12
Sep 4, 2018
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I am not the best source for comparisons as my listening time is limited to the equipment I have listed in my previous responses. Having said that I am very happy with the bass quality I am getting out of this setup. The change in coupling capacitors was supposed to help with frequency extension for the slightly lower impedance headphones I am listening to. As I understand it, the 'sloppyness' in bass resposne for the Darkvoice is largely attributable to the tubes you are using - I would assume that it is similar with the Crack, as they are similar designs. I think the mods just help with extending the lower cutoff frequencies of the amp.
Other than being a tight fit inside the amp case, the work on the Darkvoice was not too difficult to do.
I have a couple of CD's from Chesky ("Dr Chesky's Sensational... Binaural Sound Show" and "Ultimate Demonstration Disc: Chesky Records Guide to Critical Listening") that have some good bass test material on them, including a binaural recording of a Bach organ piece that goes really low, string bass solos, drum solos, etc. Highly recmmended discs. I am happy with how all these tracks are sounding - very clean and articulate, while still being extended and having good impact. As for straight up quantity of bass, some of the tracks on Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack are pretty over the top, and there is plenty of solid punchy bass present in that recording with this headphone/amp combo.
For well recorded material, I am attributing the small amount of treble harshness issues I have to my DAC at this point, but it should be noted that these do not stand out very much at all, listening is very enjoyable for me on this material. Other music is just hard to listen to though due to poor recording quality. A lot of my 80's pop music from my younger days falls into this category unfortunately. The forgiveness of the Darkvoice coupled wth the quality of the Elex however has made it fun to pull some of this older material out again for enjoyable listening.
Sep 4, 2018
Senpai-sama
92
Sep 8, 2018
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I have the Elex plus the LCX. I have found this pairing to be quite amazing. I think balanced is the way to go to really open up these headphones. I used them with the magni 3 and I couldn't get the same quality I was getting with the LCX and SMSL SU8 balanced dac
Sep 8, 2018
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