I am an audio enthusiast, and have no professional audio background. I simply enjoy my music, and my preference is 80s and 90s music. I have had various home audio equipment, ranging from an entry Inifinity reference 60 on Quad 66 amp system to Wilson watt puppy run by Jadis KT88 tube amps. I now have a simple Denon AV system with children running around, touching everything. My brother in law now own the pups, so I can still listen to them whenever I visit.
Anyway, I’ve had about a week to give the 4xx a good listen.
Flac files on PC --> Modi Multibit DAC –-> Loki passive EQ (set to passthrough for testing)-> either Magni 3 (hi output) or Little Dot mkii (high output) with Voskhod preamp and amp tubes.
Whenever I wasn’t listening, my pc and dac/amp were still on, and blasting music on random for the “burn-in” effect that many talk about. (I am not a believer, but I do it anyway as a precaution) Long story short, the 4xx has had very little “off” time ever since I got it.
These fit around my ears very well, and the clamp force is slightly weaker than the 6xx. The tip of my ears touch the inside, but I felt no discomfort contacting the soft inner foam. Also, for me, the headphone was not particularly heavy, and I did not face any issues on my neck. That being said, my ears felt like it was in a sauna! I had no issues listening to the 6xx for hours on end, sometimes not taking it off the whole day, whilst the 4xx forces removal every so often.
And this leads me to clamping force. I have to remove the cans every so often cause it is either too hot and sweating around my ears, or the clamp is pressing on my jaw and after a few hours, it can get painful. Even though the clamp force of the 6xx is stronger, yet I felt no discomfort. Perhaps it’s the circular versus oblong shape of the pads that does it. Also, the 4xx is not as glasses friendly as the 6xx.
2. Power requirement
The 4xx is a relatively low resistance can, at just 35ohms versus the 300 ohms of the 6xx. Yet, the 4xx needs a lot more power than the 6xx to reach the same volume. The 6xx requires just 10 on the notch of the LD mkii, whilst the 4xx needs the dialed turned to slightly higher than 20 to get it on the same dB level. The magni 3 on low gain need to be on a shade below max volume to drive the 4xx up to painful levels, but even on high gain, the dial needs to be turned up substantially more than the 6xx. Make no mistake though, on high gain, the magni 3 will still be able to push these to ear damaging levels at less than half volume.
For fun, I also tried in on my Samsung galaxy S8. It does get loud, but gets asthmatic when it comes to the good stuff (read: bass).
Not sure if this would work well as a benchmark: It does not get loud enough to drown out the vacuum cleaner when I use it listening to music on the S8.
I tried powering the cans on both amps, and I clearly favor the solid state amp option for the 4xx. The 4xx sound seems slightly distant and sounds like it loses accuracy/control of notes when driven by tubes. Even as I write this review, the 4xx remain plugged into my magni 3 whilst I might as well weld the 6xx into the LD mkii.
Thick, robust and....short. It’s just enough for me to lean back on my chair, but no more. Should it be coiled somehow on the stand, then the cable gets pulled out from the cans. (the amp connection is way solid)
Whoa! I silently thought all the talk on forums about openness for headphones were all blasphemy and a lot of placebo. How wrong I was, as none of the headphones I owned before had such soundstage. AMSR tracks gives you huge goosebumps! Luciano Pavarotti sounds like he came back from the dead and singing in front of you live when listening to La Donna e mobile.
Treble : PLENTY compared to the 6xx. These cans remind me that sometimes we all need some treble to make a song feel more alive and upbeat. It isn’t as sharp as a HD25-1, so it will not cause fatigue in that sense (only clamping and/or sweaty ears). Chicago’s you’re the inspiration high notes sounded especially pleasing.
Mids : My goto track for mids and vocal is Eva Cassidy’s son of a preacher man. The 4xx reproduces this track true and similar to my living room system… but somehow the 6xx seems untouchable when it comes to this point… it’s just not as smooth and “creamy”, if one can actually explain sound in such a word. By no means bad, but to me, the 6xx is miles ahead. Just to be sure, I gave Van Halen’s Jump and Jason Mraz I’m yours a listen. I don’t know if it’s the solid state vs tube, but again, the 4xx loses out to the 6xx for my preference. But oh, the soundstage of the 4xx!!! Does anyone know how to make the 6xx sound more open and airy like the 4xx?
Bass: It has been mentioned enough on forums on the benefits of planars reproducing bass notes. Alas, it has not been my experience. The 6xx seems to have more bass. It initially seemed as though the 4xx had more bass, but the more I listen to it, the more I crave for more bass on the 4xx. I tried passive EQ thru my Loki, but just muddled things. Snoop Dogg's murder was the case sounded nowhere as sinister as what it should be. Flo Rida's Low bass tones on the 4xx sounded too tight, while the bass on the 6xx is what the song should sound like.
(Perhaps I'm not used to the tight controlled sub bass signature of planars... but to me, it really needs more bass!)
Conclusion: The 4xx is my 1st planar cans that I will continue to listen to and edit this review, should I hear something different. But until I receive my Audeze Mobius next month, the 6xx will remain on my head the longest of all the cans I currently have.
Whoa, my longest review ever.