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Lociinthesky
20
Oct 11, 2018
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If you are a widdle audiophile nooblit baby, skip to the very bottom**** -**-If you have total budget for headphones and gear of $200 (or maybe 250), I'm talking to you now. -**-
I have much more to say than I'll add in here, so I will come back to answer questions and share my perspective since my particular gear is highly relevant for Sennheiser shoppers on MD. My personality comes with the package. Sorry :(
My 3 pairs of headphones are 1) HD600, and the latter two newly added to my collection exclusively from MDL: 2) HD58x and 3) HD6xx (essentially, the HD650).
I have 3 combo AMP/DACs: 1) Massdrop Objective2/SDAC ($150) , 2) Fiio E17, (PLEASE(!) Sell me your Fiio L7 line-out if any of you have one) lociinthesky@gmail.com 3) Audioengine D3

I bought the 58x and the 6xx dropped days later. Damn! I Have to play on massdrop's schedule or not at all! So I committed to selling the one I didn't like as much and picked up the 6xx. At that time I didn't know that the 6xx is essentially the legendary HD650 painted blue(!). I wished I didn't learn about that because I know it colored my perceptions and would make me biased. Nevertheless, I went an entire week trying to pick the better out of the two, and I could not do it! (even though most audiophiles tend to say the 6xx is the better of the two from what I've seen. And FFS, it's just a blue HD650). The fact that the 58x could keep up with it neck and neck for a full week is a testament to its greatness. Or at least, it seemed that way at the time. There is a hole in this narrative above. Every word of it is true, but at the one week mark, I did not just "make up my mind" as to which I "preferred," I determined which cans were superior. How?
That was the day my O2+SDAC came. It separated the wheat from the chaff almost instantly, with authority and decision. Yes, the O2 will fix your woes as long as you keep your SDAC handy.
But here is a better edea. 1) Buy my E09. This piece of equipment I don't even care about. It's the one that optionally docks in with my E17. But its amp is not better than the one in the E17 (which is both highly-rated and under-rated). So why the extra bulk? My best guess is that it would significantly outperform the e17 in the case of 600 ohm impedance headphones which I neither have nor plan to get. This would be a fraction of the price of the O2. The thing I didn't explain about the O2 is that while it makes the HD 58x improve, it turns the HD 6xx into a slaughterhouse with laser-turrets. It is obvious to me that what happens here is that the HD 58x saturates. It stops being hungry for electricity and it stops improving accordingly. It is not asgood eadphone for scaling the same way the 600/650 are, though (beyond the level we are discussing I mean). I just got those RCA cables so I can mix and match and test amps and dacs, and it sounds fine to me through the E9 (and SDAC). No sorry, it doesn't sound "fine", it sounds significantly bolder, louder bass and noticeably widened soundstage. If HD58X and IEMs are what you intend to power, this will do that. Remember, I have all of this gear in front of me and on my head as we speak.
If you disagree with me, ship it back and get the O2. I an

2) Buy the O2, but also buy the HD6xx. If it makes it more affordanle, sell your HD58xs. This is the best option in my opinion, period. But the following one/s might be more attractive.
3) Buy my E17. Finance it by selling your SDAC. The SDAC doesn't sound to me like some great, special DAC. It's a DAC with an analytical and IMO relatively cold feel. If that's the way you like it then good, but if it isn't, you aren't going to say "Wow I'm glad I have this DAC, since it is the 'best' one under $101" . No... xD Personal preference. To me, it's a tie. All I can say is they sound different from each other. If I had the adapter to do a proper line out from the E17, I'd probably use that. Well, I would half the time for sure. Aside from the fact that you would pay most of this off with your SDAC, note: this thing is smaller than a cell phone. If you care about driving your IEMS, I am curious, do you use those outside of the house? I know I would. You could take that to the *** Notes on quality sources for the uninitiated HQ music means .FLAC or other lossless file extension. 320 kbps files are more widely available, and there are some people with purportedly "average" hearing who claim to be unable to hear the difference between FLAC and 320 kbps. Quality continues to degrade rapidly under 320. The 2 million songs that stream for free with an amazon prime account stream at about 260kbps. It's not great, but if you have prime and are using a free music streaming service, it's probably the best you have access to today. In short, you will never tap your headphone's potential without using music quality of 320kbps or better, period. Premium Spotify accounts stream at 320kbps and Tidal's quality is better still. 1) Have any pair of headphones in the world, and the only catch is that I could not resell them and I would have to listen to the standard streaming quality of 128kbps (pandora, spotify, etc), or 2) Just keep one of the Sennheisers that I already own,
I'd pick (2) HQ music means .FLAC or other lossless file extension. 320 kbps files are more widely available, and there are some people with purportedly "average" hearing who claim to be unable to hear the difference between FLAC and 320 kbps. Quality continues to degrade rapidly under 320. The 2 million songs that stream for free with an amazon prime account stream at about 260kbps. It's not great, but if you have prime and are using a free music streaming service, it's probably the best you have access to today. In short, you will never tap your headphone's potential without using music quality of 320kbps or better, period. Premium Spotify accounts stream at 320kbps and Tidal's quality is better still.
Sorry if I wound up rambling there. If you have any specific questions I'll get back to you if I see them. If you are a widdle audiophile nooblit baby, skip to the very bottom**** -**-If you have total budget for headphones and gear of $200 (or maybe 250), I'm talking to you now. -**-
I have much more to say than I'll add in here, so I will come back to answer questions and share my perspective since my particular gear is highly relevant for Sennheiser shoppers on MD. My personality comes with the package. Sorry :(
My 3 pairs of headphones are 1) HD600, and the latter two newly added to my collection exclusively from MDL: 2) HD58x and 3) HD6xx (essentially, the HD650).
I have 3 combo AMP/DACs: 1) Massdrop Objective2/SDAC ($150) , 2) Fiio E17, (PLEASE(!) Sell me your Fiio L7 line-out if any of you have one) lociinthesky@gmail.com 3) Audioengine D3

I bought the 58x and the 6xx dropped days later. Damn! I Have to play on massdrop's schedule or not at all! So I committed to selling the one I didn't like as much and picked up the 6xx. At that time I didn't know that the 6xx is essentially the legendary HD650 painted blue(!). I wished I didn't learn about that because I know it colored my perceptions and would make me biased. Nevertheless, I went an entire week trying to pick the better out of the two, and I could not do it! (even though most audiophiles tend to say the 6xx is the better of the two from what I've seen. And FFS, it's just a blue HD650). The fact that the 58x could keep up with it neck and neck for a full week is a testament to its greatness. Or at least, it seemed that way at the time. There is a hole in this narrative above. Every word of it is true, but at the one week mark, I did not just "make up my mind" as to which I "preferred," I determined which cans were superior. How?
That was the day my O2+SDAC came. It separated the wheat from the chaff almost instantly, with authority and decision. Yes, the O2 will fix your woes as long as you keep your SDAC handy.
But here is a better idea. 1) Buy my E09. This piece of equipment I don't even care about. It's the one that optionally docks in with my E17. The thing I didn't explain about the O2 is that while it makes the HD 58x improve, it turns the HD 6xx into a slaughterhouse with laser-turrets. It is obvious that what happens here is that the HD 58x saturates. It stops being hungry for electricity and it stops improving accordingly. It is not asgood eadphone for scaling the same way the 600/650 are (beyond the level we are discussing I mean). I just got those RCA cables so I can mix and match and test amps and dacs, and it sounds fine to me through the E9 (and SDAC). No sorry, it doesn't sound "fine", it sounds significantly bolder, louder bass and noticeably widened soundstage. If HD58X and IEMs are what you intend to power, this is it. I'm listening to it right now. Price is whatever "going rate" is, i haven't looked into it. If you feel you didn't get what you wanted for any reason, just ship it back. I don't care, get the O2. Think of it this way: if it cost $90 to improve your headphones by +100 points, and it cost $45 to improve your headphones by +90 points, would you want to spend the extra $45 to get the last 10 points? If not, then my offer is the way to go. $45 is probably in the ballpark, and 90% is probably pessimistic. If you'd want to pay the extra $45, then I would stay on the safe side and just get the O2. Good luck anyhow, you are going to be a happy man soon.
*** Notes on quality sources for the uninitiated HQ music means .FLAC or other lossless file extension. 320 kbps files are more widely available, and there are some people with purportedly "average" hearing who claim to be unable to hear the difference between FLAC and 320 kbps. Quality continues to degrade rapidly under 320. The 2 million songs that stream for free with an amazon prime account stream at about 260kbps. It's not great, but if you have prime and are using a free music streaming service, it's probably the best you have access to today. In short, you will never tap your headphone's potential without using music quality of 320kbps or better, period. Premium Spotify accounts stream at 320kbps and Tidal's quality is better still. 1) Have any pair of headphones in the world, and the only catch is that I could not resell them and I would have to listen to the standard streaming quality of 128kbps (pandora, spotify, etc), or 2) Just keep one of the Sennheisers that I already own,
I'd pick (2) HQ music means .FLAC or other lossless file extension. 320 kbps files are more widely available, and there are some people with purportedly "average" hearing who claim to be unable to hear the difference between FLAC and 320 kbps. Quality continues to degrade rapidly under 320. The 2 million songs that stream for free with an amazon prime account stream at about 260kbps. It's not great, but if you have prime and are using a free music streaming service, it's probably the best you have access to today. In short, you will never tap your headphone's potential without using music quality of 320kbps or better, period. Premium Spotify accounts stream at 320kbps and Tidal's quality is better still.
Sorry if I wound up rambling there. If you have any specific questions I'll get back to you if I see them.
Oct 11, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 12, 2018
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How does HD58X sound with Massdrop Objective2/SDAC? I have SDAC but can hardly tell the differences with my ER4P-T. I was thinking maybe ER4P-T is not resolving enough to reveal the true impact of SDAC, even I vaguely recall its resolution is said to be quite good. Now I have a pair of HD58X, and I was hoping it has better resolution than ER4P-T. Unfortunately, I find it even less resolving/impressive than ER4P-T. Maybe it is due to the lack of burn-in. Or maybe it is due to the lack of an amplifier. That is why I would like to know how much improvement do you see when using HD58X with Massdrop Objective2/SDAC. If it is huge, I might have to buy a standalone Massdrop Objective2 too (since I already have a standalone SDAC).
Oct 12, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 13, 2018
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Hey, thanks for chipping in. That's a great question. I have been thinking that I need to go back and fill in the AMP info, as well as some other things. I'll do that in a few minutes after looking up the ER4P-T.
Oct 13, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 13, 2018
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I find your experience interesting and surprising. I was surprised by all this new gear at virtually every turn. Here's your question: "_If [the improvement to HD58x caused by the addition of the O2] it is huge, I might have to buy a standalone Massdrop Objective2."
The answer there is "no", the improvement was not of such a magnitude that buying the O2 is the obvious path. But I believe I have the knowledge and experience that will work to guide you to a winning scenario this time. I'm going to add a section to my OP, "On AMPs", summing up my experiences and conclusions of the week. I will direct the writing to apply to precisely what you're asking and the points you're making, but the words may hold some value for others as well, so the rest of your answer is in there.
BTW, I sent the 3.5mm->RCA from Amazon to the wrong city, so even though it was "delivered" (somewhere) today, I still have to buy another one tomorrow! Then I will be able to test my O2 and SDAC in isolation and hear what you have heard. So far, I have 3 DAC/AMPs and technically two of those 3 are fully modular. But I haven't been able to do any mixing or matching yet.
Oct 13, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 13, 2018
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Noapp, I just realized you didn't specify anything about your source of music. I wish it could go without saying, I wish we lived in that lossless world. But we don't. Can you confirm that the bit rate of the music you were testing were 320kbps or better, and not streaming? (If not, then I would consider your SDAC to be untested)
Oct 13, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 13, 2018
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Yep my source is lossless APE file (kind of like FLAC) played by Foobar2000. One interesting thing I noticed is that the difference SDAC makes seems negligible on my office desktop but I did perceive more apparent effect on my home laptop. I'm unsure whether it is due to the noise in office or the higher output from desktop. Regardless, I'm looking forward to your experience. Thank you.
Oct 13, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 13, 2018
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I really hope this post helps you, noapp. I know that it has that potential. I pumped a lot of power into my HD6xx and my HD58x, and I have learned something important: with an O2+SDAC and the HD58x, I believe I have already reached and crossed the point of diminishing returns. In other words, I would not spend my own money in further attempts to make the HD58x sound better than it does today. And today, it does not sound as good as my HD6xx. Out of the box, the HD6xx and HD58x sound equally good. The HD58x is a bit intense, it's a little in-your-face, but that's alright, it's a "toe-tapping" set of phones. The HD6xx isn't like that. But neither one is better.willing to spend more than $250 total, well they can get a Schiit Fulla 2 with their DAC/AMP for a measly $100 (you could sell your SDAC to fund this). The only time that the HD58x is a wise purchase is when a person takes advantage of the $50 gap and 150 ohm impedance gap by buying a $50 or $100 AMP/DAC one time, like the Fulla 2, and being done with it.
So did I just describe you, or not? I have a feeling that you are not that person, but if you are, you know what to do. But if that isn't you, please understand this: If you buy that O2 (or the schiit magni 3 which is $100, five year warranty unlike Massdrop, and much newer tech), and then you buy the HD6xx (there is a drop for the HD6xx today!), the doubt/trepidation/disappointment and uncertainty within the tone of your posts will dissolve. You will have done right by the Gods of Sound, and you will know that to be true because your music will sound really fucking good, and that will make you smile.
Sell off your HD58x to offset some costs. I really don't think you'll mourn them.
Sympathy time: I know it sucks to lose money on reselling something that you just bought, but we aren't talking about enormous losses here. After all, to get from A to B, where "A" is being pretty sure that you can kind of hear the SDAC on your laptop sometimes, and "B" is that kind of auditory satisfaction that people buy Sennheisers and amps in order to obtain, this is still your cheapest route.
Oct 13, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 13, 2018
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For now, your name should be "noamp"
Oct 13, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 14, 2018
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Wow that's a lot of information. Thank you so much! Believe me, your post has already been helping. I still got one question that need your help testing: How does HD58X or even HD6XX sound with and without SDAC? I am more interested in how much improvement SDAC brings in here. Feel free to use an AMP in this comparison if you want, as I know HD6XX will sound awful without one. Since the purpose is NOT to compare HD58X with HD6XX, I don't mind the involvement of an AMP.
Just to make sure I understand you clearly, I think what you are saying is: 1. Without an AMP, HD58X and HD6XX are on par. Each has different style and it is hard to tell which one is better. 2. With an AMP, however, both improve but HD58X stops somewhere, while HD6XX seems limitless if AMP keeps improving. That is how HD6XX gets superior than HD58X. 3. The improvement brought by an AMP with HD58X is perceivable but not huge. 4. O2 or Magni3 is definitely an overkill for HD58X.
Is my understanding correct?
I can see you are really trying to help and I like the reasoning in your post. That is why I figured I should give you more context and let's see whether my thinking is flawed. I own Bose QC35, ER4P-T, HD497 and PX200. As you are aware, the first one is wireless and provides arguably one of the best ANC features. My feeling is, even the sound quality of QC35 cannot compete with the others, when being outside and surrounded by so much noise, it does not matter any more. I would even go far as saying QC35 provides the best sound quality because it cancels out the noises, while those noises negate all the higher quality the other headphones bring and make it hard to tell them apart. That is why I would only use ANC or IEM when outside. Passive noise cancelling from ER4P-T is quite good, and it does not need an AMP to drive properly. PX200 is closed-back but seriously, it does not help much with regarding to noises when compared to open-backs. The only advantage of it is portable and I have stopped listening to it for a long time since owning ER4P-T. The reason I am saying this is that I do not need to buy a new pair of headphones to bring outside. The main place it will be used is at home or office. Before buying HD58X, I actually joined the drop of ESP/95X. I was tossed between it (ESP/95X) and HD6XX + a proper chain but eventually decided on the former. Part of the reason is that I have never heard of an electrostatics. Part is that I fear HD6XX will keep dragging me into the endless upgrade cycle. :P So, the reason for me to get SDAC is not for HD58X. I figured I may need a good enough DAC for ESP/95X, because the only source I have is a computer full of FLACs/APEs. (ESP/95X comes with an "AMP" -- energizer, already. Of course there are people replacing it with the one from Stax, but hey, I am getting way ahead of myself if following that.) I fear the accuracy and high fidelity from an electrostatics will reveal the flaws of my computer in no time. (I know I know, ESP/95X will not arrive until next February and I should have waited. But the excitement for a yet-to-come new gear got the better of me. :D) Then I saw HD58X. I figured I really need a good pair of cans for TV/movie watching at home, to replace Bose QC35. To be honest, any good enough cans can blow QC35 out of water in a quiet environment, which is exactly the one for those late night watching. I read a lot of reviews/discussions before jumping in, and the good part of HD58X is it does not seem to need an AMP to be "good enough". Therefore I do not need to worry about upgrading anything. (Maybe 90% of its potential is already shown without an AMP?) Even occasionally pairing it with a phone seems doable. I am sold. Another funny part of SDAC is that I kind of use it as an extension cable. The cable of HD58X is not long enough from my TV to the couch, but with SDAC (and its USB cable) this can be easily done. (The most expensive extension cable maybe. :P) One stone two birds, right?
After I got SDAC, I immediately tried it at office with both DT770 (32ohm) and ER4P-T. (The only two pairs of cans I have on hand that can kind of reveal the power of a DAC. Shame on me.) To my surprise, I heard NO differences at all. To be fair, my office is not quiet as late night home but not noisy either. I became susceptible of the effect of SDAC. Then I got home and tried it with ER4P-T again on my laptop. This time, if I turn up the volume (to an almost unbearable level) and listen hard and carefully enough, I can tell the "fine" differences. That is all. Color me unimpressed! I was thinking there must be something wrong with my gear. DACs in laptops (in this case, Realtek) are bad as hell, right? I should definitely have heard the differences easily, as in some of the posts, "day and night" differences. But sorry. No. So I was thinking maybe ER4P-T is not revealing enough, even I know this pair is known for its accuracy and analytic ability. So I waited and waited, in the hope that the arrival of HD58X would prove how wrong my ER4P-T was. When it arrived (again, in my office), I did not compare it with ER4P-T. Instead, I just tried it with and without SDAC. Sadly, I could not tell any differences. Worse, I heard less details from HD58X than from ER4P-T, per my memory. I tried the same thing at home, and again, fine differences between with and without SDAC, but HD58X definitely has less details than ER4P-T.
So, instead of doubting SDAC alone, I now have doubts on both SDAC and HD58X. Unlucky me! That is why I followed your post and posed my doubts. What you own can actually help answer my questions on both SDAC and HD58X. And that is why I asked another question at the beginning of this reply, to see the effect of SDAC. My thought goes like this when asking you the questions: I DID not want to get an AMP when buying HD58X (or SDAC), but if all the flaws (for both HD58X and SDAC) point to the same reason (lack of an AMP), I may have to buy it to save my investments.
I do agree with you that with proper chain (DAC + AMP), HD6XX can easily beat HD58X. That is not from my personal experience, of course, but I have read so many posts and most of them seem to suggest the same. If I did not join the drop of ESP/95X, I would have skipped HD58X and bought HD6XX instead. But now, I will do the critical listening on ESP/95X. All I want is actually a pair of easy-to-drive and good-enough cans, for TV/movie watching and occasional music listening at home. Pairing with phones is a plus, although not necessary. I thought that was HD58X. Maybe I am wrong. So far HD58X turns out underwhelming. Maybe I am spoiled by ER4P-T. (My challenge is that I do not own any other decent pairs to compare with. The other wireless ones I own are easily defeated.) The only hope I have is with burn-in, HD58X will eventually prove worthwhile.
From what you have mentioned, I think one thing is clear. I should stop thinking of buying any AMP simply for HD58X. It's not worth it due to the limited improvement, especially given I have ESP/95X coming in couple months. If HD58X eventually improves, lucky me. Otherwise, a lemon I guess. As for SDAC, either I own no pair of cans good enough to reveal its true color, or it is not worth its fame either. Luckily, with the arrival of ESP/95X, there will be no excuse for it. For now, it can at least serve as an extension cable.
Oct 14, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 14, 2018
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Ok, all of that was very helpful. I'll be explicit about the stuff you asked. I was cheeky about it, but it bears repeating that in my own opinion, there is a place for the 58X. Only for those like you, people who understand what it i s. Your 4 summary descriptions of my claims were accurate. Just to put a finer point on #4, the one and only drawback to this kind of "overkill" is $. You aren't going to set your hair on fire, and they will never sound worse than they would have with an inferior and/or weaker amp, as if we are contestants on "The Impedance Is Right," trying to get closest to the magic number.
Of course, the QC35 are great - they feel like having your head cuddled by a cloud. I have the Sennheiser PXC 550, which are the better buy between the two, which I'll support below: Noise Cancelling is a wash,
Build goes to sennheiser, a little more metal and a little less plastic. Bose stuff never looks made to last, whereas post-apocalyptia is littered with roaches, twinkies, and HD280s.
Sound goes to Sennheiser. Let me first ask you a question here (I'll te.st and respond to the rest soon). T is similar sounding, but when rlistening through a wire? Sennheiser, obviously. But why would you do that? Because you can listen through the very USB wire that charges your Senns while they are charging, or through a second detachable 3.5mm wire. Sennheiser's sound is a bass-light, true to form. They took out too much. I listen to mine permanently in "club mode," which has kind of bass-boost button. No points will be deducted simply because of its four hard-coded modes of sound, "CLUB" is my favorite.
Comfort actually goes to Sennheiser for me by a little, but with that "riskier"550 design, this point goes to Bose. I have left the Senns on for 30 hours and more working on the computer which was not long enough to cause discomfort. I could probably do that with Bose too.
Battery life Similar for both. I have heard that Bose's actually can go up past 30hrs, so a small point for Bose.
Features even if we left out every member in the set of that whole myriad of gesture-based controls that can be used to do anything with the right earcup (which is also a trackpad), this category goes to the Senns, hands down. One welcome feature is the third noise-cancelling position other than On-off: the ability to change the noise cancelling strength (and accompanying auditory distortion) with a slider on your phone, so it is only as powerful as you need.
Cost Sennheiser! The MSRP for the PXC 550 was a hefty $450. Bose's was $399. These days, Bose stays in the upper $300-350 range, but the PXC 550 stays in the upper $250-300 range, mostly. I paid $226 for mine, shipped in an unopened box from ebay.
If mine broke and I could pick up either one new for $200, I would go with the Senns, easily. But I wouldn't say that it's so obvious that I expect everyone to agree with me. Of primary importance is the comfort/NC for these, so if the Senns were found not to be as comfortable, Bose would become the better choice at an equal price. The price disparity is quite large though.

TLDR; when the plastic on your wimpy-boy Bose snaps, get yourself some Sennheisers next time like a real man. Kidding about the tone, but really - do look into them when you need a replacement.

Let me first ask you a question here before I deal with the rest.
Did you agree with my assessment that the HD 58x are "forward" sounding headphones? Every time I went back and forth with the HD6xx, I'd put on the new pair and say either, "Oh - this pair is the keeper, I can hear sounds now that I didn't realize were playing just a moment ago," or I'd say "Oh - this pair is the keeper. They just breathed life into this music!" Yeah, your IEMs are going to be the ones for critical listening. It is much easier to get all the sound right when it's only 5 decibels and contacts your ear immediately. I have never heard a pair of IEMs myself, but I understand that as a matter of engineering, cans have certain limitations that IEMs don't have.
But the HD58x has a fun sound signature, so it's all good. I will have to look up the other headphones/items you mentioned to get an idea of how they relate to everything. Will test and return.
Edit: Oh, you're getting those...shit...jealous. Good, clarifies your situation.
Also, we're going to flesh out how to get them sounding better. They're not a not a lemon.
I figured out how I can get good isolation of the DAC performance by plugging my phones into my stereo system. More to come
Oct 14, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 18, 2018
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You are in a fine situation that is easy and very cheap to improve across the board, noapp. You may even profit from the change.
I got home and tried it with ER4P-T again on my laptop. This time, if I turn up the volume (to an almost unbearable level) and listen hard and carefully enough, I can tell the "fine" differences. That is all.
Then my D3 is functionally superior to your SDAC. Is that fact worth acting on?
I think one thing is clear. I should stop thinking of buying any AMP simply for HD58X. I think that's smart. But you have many areas to improve:
-better sound on ER4P-T and HD58x and (I bet) DT 770, -better sound from phone, -better sound at office, and also at home (across the board), -better sound out of your tv, (contingent upon the right output)

Get a refurbished D3 (w/ 3 years warranty & 30 days money back) for $45 from Audioengine's site. A 12 ft 3.5mm extension for your TV costs $4 on newegg by the way, so the distance to your tv is neither here nor there. Your SDAC is also neither here nor there. Sell it.
But how does a $45 DAC/AMP combo outclass your SDAC?
Best guess: even if the DAC in the D3 is worse than your SDAC (not obvious to my ears by the way), it is at least going to be more capable of showing its colors because the DAC leads to an amp, to which the headphones connect, which is the standard configuration.
Also, when the D3 was released, it was $195. It isn't in the same class as a $45 DAC/AMP, if such a thing even exists. Review-averages online are lower than they would be if it had originally sold at the more reasonable price of $99 that it costs today.
After one of your remarks about laptop audio, I decided to inspect and learn about what audio components are in this computer of mine, which I bought used, and to my surprise, there are hi-fi upgrades that the seller didn't mention. My "baseline" is above average, so I have accidentally downplayed the size of the effect of adding components like the O2, for instance. Still, an O2 doesn't seem to make much sense budget-wise - it is a +$95 solution compared to the +$0 solution I've outlined here, and isn't even portable (though obviously the effect is greater).
Good luck - I feel you've gotten the short end of the stick so far. With a D3 instead, you'll definitely be in a better position than you are now. I just hope it is enough for you to feel satisfied with your situation as a whole. Let me know either way.
Oct 18, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 18, 2018
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Thank you so much Lociinthesky, for the long reply and also really thinking for me! After your last reply, I have thought about the situation harder and understood what you are talking about. I did some search online and there exists people who are directly connecting a headphone to a DAC. There were even discussions about this on head-fi. It is not ridiculous as it seems, but one thing is clear. Most headphones of high grade (HD58X included) benefit from amplification. I am wasting my money by connecting HD58X to SDAC directly without an amp. Therefore, I have kind of changed my mind and decided to buy a good enough amp. My justification is it can serve as a pre-amp for my ESP/95X. The volume control on that energizer is said hard to be kept in sync and a pre-amp helps mitigate the nuisance. So strictly speaking, I am not buying an amp for HD58X only. (I know I know, there always exists excuse for buying better and more stuff doesn't it? :D) I also see your point on O2 vs. Magni 3 and therefore, have made an order on Magni 3. SDAC and Magni 3 should be good enough for my current needs, and I can always replace SDAC with something from Schiit to make the stack complete if needed. I know this seems an overkill for HD58X, but as you have mentioned, it is more on the money side than anything else. And I can always get a more demanding pair in the future (HE6 maybe?), which makes this purchase future-proof. As for HD58X, I am not going to sell them because with one week of burn-in, I already kind of like it. I read something couple days ago and realized ER4P-T is super strong in resolving details so it was kind of unfair to compare HD58X with ER4P-T on details. I am now looking forward to the delivery of Magni 3 and the improvement it will bring to HD58X. Even it is not huge as with HD6XX, but who knows, maybe I'll get myself a pair of HD6XX shortly. From other's reviews, these two pairs seem to be different enough to be kept both. :P
Oct 18, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 18, 2018
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Thanks for keeping me in the loop.
I am wasting my money by connecting HD58X to SDAC directly without an amp. Glad to hear that you came to this conclusion independently. I was not too sure about it.
Therefore, I have kind of changed my mind and decided to buy a good enough amp. Logical.
My justification is it can serve as a pre-amp for my ESP/95X. OK, well that's a cool little bonus. More to the point though, everything you already own is about to sound better! I am most curious to hear about the effects on the Bose. I also see your point on O2 vs. Magni 3 and therefore, have made an order on Magni 3. Good bet - I love the Magni 3 more than any other audio equipment that I've never used!
I know this seems an overkill for HD58X, but as you have mentioned, it is more on the money side than anything else. Actually, I made a point to clarify that IMO, $ is the only drawback to such a purchase, not merely the largest. My final advice was to go with the D3. The reason I leaned so far toward the D3 in the end was because I could use it to form the strongest argument against doing nothing at all, which would have been the wrong way to go. You paid for the premium experience that the D3 can't do, and you'll get it.
As for HD58X, I am not going to sell them because with one week of burn-in, I already kind of like it. Baffling... Same thing happened to me too, though. If it seemed to change, would you try to put that change in sound quality into words? I bought a second HD 58x that has stayed in the box. I will test it soon to see whether it or my brain was the one to change
From other's reviews, [the HD 58x and HD 6xx] seem to be different enough to be kept both. Not for most people...Though I can think of four contrary scenarios. If a person already has an AKG, and some Beyerdynamics, and some planars - one of each kind of headphone they are interested in having. Then,sure, there's sense in keeping both. This could be you.
Or, a person knows that the Sennheiser open-back sound is the best or only sound that interests them, again, there's sense in collecting the set.
Or, if a person is a collector, and they just want as many pairs as they can get irrespective of whether they will even have a reason to use a given pair (these are probably the people you talked to).
Or, if the improved bass response and forward quality of the HD58x makes them better for movies, and the person is either a movie buff or simply wealthy & picky, that could be a reason. If this last case is true, I concede that this is a good reason :)
What other good reasons are there to choose the headphone that sounds the most like the one they already own, but just isn't quite as good, when there's a whole world of audio left? I think all of the above is true for those who prefer the sound signature of the HD 58x as well.
But I would really like to hear from a dual-owner who disagrees.
So how long do you have to wait for this schiit?
Oct 18, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 19, 2018
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I have been watching FedEx closely and it should arrive in couple days. I am curious to see how much difference it will make.
With regarding to burn-in, I have read a theory saying it is not the headphone but your brain. I highly doubt it, though. Without a proper device to capture and compare the sound when it first arrived with now, however, it is hard to objectively quantify. I do feel the separation becomes better. You know ER4P-T is super good at resolving details. Back then, when I switched immediately to HD58X after hearing ER4P-T, I felt all the sounds from HD58X were kind of compressed together. The high was not high enough and the low was not low enough. Now it seems extending both ways a bit and therefore better separation. I do like high to be really high, by the way. Another improvement is on the clarity and volume. I can hear better clarity on highs while bigger volume on lows. I would say the lows is the only part where it exceeds my ER4P-T. While ER4P-T wins in clarity, the lows simply lack that kind of power. HD58X definitely is better here. The final improvement I can feel is texture. I have been listening to some classics in the past week, and I can notice string instruments keep sounding better and better. I can hear the bows moving on the strings and the unique sound it makes. I still remember the first time I was using HD497 and got shocked when hearing string instruments through it. I feel Sennheiser is always good at presenting string instruments. How ignorant I was then! HD58X is miles better than HD497 since I still have the latter on hand. So yes, the texture keeps improving, especially for string instruments. Does this burn-in experience align to what you have been noticing?
I think most people in this review, even owning HD6XX, prefer HD58X. I do not know why. But one person here who has many headphones does not appreciate HD58X either. His argument is HD58X has gone too far and lost the traditional characters of Sennheiser. I am not sure whether that is true or not, since I have no other (good traditional) Senns to compare with. The reason I bought HD58X in the first place is that I was not planning to use it for critical listening. I will have ESP/95X for that purpose in couple months. I just wanted HD58X for movie/TV watching and casual music listening, because it is more forward and exciting. Some people say it is "fun", and I tend to agree. Not wanting an amp is another reason why I bought HD58X. Then I got SDAC and figured it had no big improvement on HD58X. Then I got an amp. Now the situation becomes that I am properly equipped with somewhat capable DAC/amp, as opposed to what I had planned. I just find the journey funny but also joyful. Since I am where I am now, I am facing the dilemma as whether I should sell HD58X and get HD6XX instead. For you, it may be an easier choice, because you already own both anyway. One one side, I guess I would still be happy watching TV/movies through HD58X knowing ESP/95X is not far away. (I am super happy learning that ESP/95X is basically a super version of ER4P-T, sounding wise. I love the sound of ER4P-T!) My DAC/amp may be a bit wasted with HD58X only, and HD6XX should do them justice as you have suggested. But DAC can still be used with ESP/95X. Heck, even the amp can be reused as pre-amp. On the other hand, HD6XX can realize the full potential of my DAC/amp, and it will also sound quite differently with tubes, which is something I may have in the future. After all, tubes should be quite different than electrostatics, and I feel no guilty eyeing on them. :P
Have you sold your HD58X? Where did you do that? I just find it a bit troublesome to go extra miles and sell them. And more importantly, do you find HD6XX more suitable for TV/movie watching, as compared to HD58X? My guess is HD58X may be better but I would love to hear what you think. Also, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on the comparison between HD58X and HD6XX. You did say that with the arrival of O2, you have made up your mind. But what are the reasons? Most people said the two are quite different (maybe I misunderstand), but I think your reason is that they are similar and HD58X is only better than HD6XX on bass and the rest is consistently worse. Do I understand you correctly?
Oct 19, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 19, 2018
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With TV, the most important aspects are bass (atmospherics, impact) and upper mids (or is it lower-highs)? The center channel - dialogue. I reckon the HD58X is better, it actually seems built for that.
They are similar and HD58X is only better than HD6XX on bass and the rest is consistently worse. I understand why you would say this, but it just doesn't tell the right story. Even with a similar sound signature, the HD6xx is a different animal, and I'll try to illustrate what that means.
But first, a note on the "better" bass of the HD58x. The reason I continue to bring this up and think it's so important is that it's true. It is right on the border of objective fact. But the bass of the HD58x is not much better. That's an important distinction. There is another difference between the two phones that isn't as easy to describe in a few words. I know a song which will illustrate both of those things. But up ahead are "spoilers" (for lack of a better word) that you shouldn't read yet. I'm going to send you a link now. Before reading past it, get your HD 58x and listen to the beginning of the song, just the first 30-45 seconds and: -focus on how intensely and for how long your head and earpads vibrate with the beats. -get that vibration to be really intense by turning up the volume. Turn it up loud from the very beginning until you can't turn it up because that banging chime would be too uncomfortable. At that point, listen to the volume disparity between the chime's bang and that soft bass kick.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX1pm2o_2T4
K, let's discuss the two things you probably just experienced. First, the bass and its effects. with the HD 58x as compared to the HD 6xx: -the vibration of the earpads from the bass (objectively) lasts some fraction of a second longer, -the vibration of the earpads is (objectively) more violent, and -the frequencies that caused the vibration are (objectively) louder, but only slightly.
If there is a difference between the 58x and the 6xx in the clarity and resolution of the sub-bass, it isn't as obvious as the other three effects. Therefore, saying that the 5 has better sub-bass than the 6 is about as good as objective fact. And when I say the 5's bass is better than the 6's, the sub-bass described above is primarily what I'm talking about. That's the biggest difference. So it's not a huge deal, but it is notable.
Secondly, the chimes. The banging chime wouldn't let you turn the volume up past a certain level, so I knew the row of chimes at the 15 second mark wouldn't blow your ear drums out. But was it uncomfortable, or startling even?
I'm hoping your answer is "yes" so that it means something when I tell you that with the HD 6xx, the answer is "no." The 6xx tends not to play music that is uncomfortable to hear. Perhaps the most pleasing and fortunate quality of the 6xx is that, almost as if it has a smart computer chip in it, it will enable you to turn up the volume louder than other phones. At any point in time, for whatever the sharpest and shoutiest audible tone is, (the tone which defines the ceiling of the maximum comfortable volume), its "shoutiness" will be mitigated as it is placed into the mix at a volume that does not stand out from the rest of the music that is playing. That means that at the beginning of the song I showed you, if I wanted to crank it up and really hear the details of that bass, I would be able to do it, because the bass isn't even close to painful, and the maximum loudness of the chime in the mix is not going to be much louder than the bass kick.
Ok, but the other side of this double-edged sword is that the chime is harder for me to hear, so I lose detail from it, right? Again, "no." The 6 reveals more detail than the 5. This is not a double-edged sword: the relative volumes of sounds are always mixed in a way that is pleasant, which does not sacrifice detail. You are going to notice that when properly amped, your 5 has better controls over its mix and levels. It will become more like the 6 in this regard. If you notice this effect, and you think that this effect is a major improvement for the 5, it's as good as proof that you will appreciate the sound of the 6, which takes this "mixing control" effect to the max. Properly amped, the 6xx differentiates from the 58x even farther in this very respect, becoming so saccharine and soft; it is like rubbing bunny-fur against my consciousness. It is particularly in this way that the 6 seemed to me to be scalable even beyond this point, while the 5 only made it half way there.
That quality is one facet of the "easiness" that makes the 6 so special. But there is even more to it than that. Further notes on that later perhaps, but first I want to revisit this idea of resolution. If you are in between two guitarists who are facing you, where one is behind you and the other is in front of you, it will be easy for you to localize them and be able to tell which notes are coming from each guitarist, even when many of the tones overlap. You know that there are two guitarists instead of just one because even when they are similar tonally, they are dissimilar spatially. On a pair of low quality headphones, this is exactly the kind of detail we would expect to get lost.
Let's keep talking about this song so I can point out more concrete differences.
Please continue listening to the song, from 1:20 through 1:50. What changes do you hear at 1:38?
There is going to be a shift in the music at about 1:38. Some instruments will fall silent, some percussive instruments will enter the picture, and for one percussive instrument that persists through this part, it will seem to get a little louder and/or take up a more definite position in space and/or show more resolution. Hear that? It sounds kind of banging two hard cylinders of wood together one for each ear. Because of the new silence, there is now more room for the woodblocks to be rendered with a little more detail and definition.
These effects are illusions that you do not hear on the 6. Those woodblocks already sounded like that.
The reason you hear those three effects is that before 1:38, there were overlapping or nearly-overlapping tones, causing some of the definition of the woodblocks to be merged with the other instruments' tones. When I say that on the 6, "those woodblocks already sounded like that," I mean exactly that. The woodblocks already had room for detail and definition because the cymbal sounds are rendered in front of and the woodblocks and further away from your head. As with our two guitarists, when the tones overlap, they do not merge together into one sound because spatially, they are quite distinct. This is true with the 6s in more cases, and to a greater degree, than with the 5s.
Does some of that help? There is more to say,
but I doubt I could hold your interest for much longer.
I haven't sold my 5s, but when I do, I'll just put them on ebay.
Oct 19, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 21, 2018
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For movies, the extra bass didn't add anything. It is just too slight. Perhaps I should have chosen movies with tons of explosions and gunfire.
The difference was that you could hear music and atmospherics better with the 6 and the center channel seemed boosted with the 5. That summary sounds like the 6 is obviously better, but the impression I came away with was actually that if you have a preference for one pair of headphones for music, you would probably also like that one here, because the 5 felt like 5 and the 6 felt like 6.
But this led me to wonder: what about audiobooks? Well, EQs have a "spoken word" mode a lot of the time that kills the bass and boosts the hell out of the high mids and low highs. I'm an audiobook fiend but I never found that I wanted spoken word to sound as natural and realistic as possible. I want it to sound as good on the ears as possible, so I don't mind some bass there. If the 5 focuses on center-channel and has a bit more bass, lacking only in atmospherics, does that mean that they are perfect for audiobooks? I had not thought about this before, but it could swing huge points in favor of the 5, even being a reason to keep the 5, for an audiobook lover like me, even if it was never used to play music.
I don't know. For movies, they sounded really different and I think most people will stick with their favorite. For audiobooks, I can't even pick out a difference or describe how they're different, though they aren't identical. But any place where the 5 and 6 are equal is a reason to buy the 5. They cost less. So if audiobooks were the only concern, the 5 would be the obvious choice in this regard simply for being the cheaper option.
Oct 21, 2018
Lociinthesky
20
Oct 22, 2018
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Did you run to the mailbox like a 9-year-old runs to the tree on Christmas morning? A friendly reminder, too: I really want to hear about the effect of your new gear on the Bose. I imagine them as the headphones that would benefit the least (for no particular reason). I wish their sound was just a hair better. It just sounds like noises are glued together instead of being spatially distinct like the Senns. If this quality of their sound opens up a bit with the amp, that would be good to know.
Also, listening to the album Dive by Tycho today, my opinion of the 5 is apparently still evolving. Just two days ago I undersold their bass. That was an error; the midbass improvement is no less significant than the sub-bass. For songs that are right at that threshold needing a tiny bit more bass drum kick and midbass volume, those improvements are so welcome on the 5. Much of Tycho's (chill/soft/electro) music is a perfect example of this to my ears. Tycho is a musician for just about everyone because his music's impact is almost at its best when it is playing softly in the background instead of as the object of attention.
What kind of music are you into, btw? If you don't like electronic, that sucks because there are a few albums you should listen to which happen to be electronic. Take my word for it - Tipper's music is an exercise in appreciating the capabilities and unique qualities of the HD58x. When you get the amp, listen through his album "surrounded" if you want to spend an hour exploring your newly expanded sound stage.
And crank up this track off a different album to push the limits of resolution and detail of the 5 in a way that I hope is as beautiful to you as it is to me!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqcjFx-Vw78
Oct 22, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 22, 2018
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Actually the amp was just delivered to my office minutes ago and I sadly realized that while I did take RCA cables with me, I left the headphone adapter (1/8" to 1/4") at home. I will have to wait until tonight for a proper listen. Maybe that is for the best, since office is never an ideal place for serious listening.
I was holding off my reply until I can try Magni 3, but since I have already started, here is what I have done during the past couple days. I did listen to your music and unfortunately, the volume from SDAC cannot reach the uncomfortable level at all. So I was unable to experience the part where HD58X becomes uncomfortable with louder sound. With that said, the row of chimes at the 15 second is already making me hate it. So I guess I kind of get what you said, even though I have no HD6XX on hand for a comparison. I believe you do not hate the sound at 15 second with HD6XX do you? With ER4P-T, I do understand the shift at 1:38 you are talking about. That is, there is no such shift with ER4P-T (or more accurately, very little shift) but there is a lot with HD58X. ER4P-T is great in separation and resolution. I would say with all that silence at 1:38, the banging woodblocks become so much more apparent and dominant with HD58X but not with ER4P-T. I believe that is what you mean by saying "it is already there".
Thank you for running the comparison for me on movies. I think if the difference is more on the "taste" side, it does not matter too much. Either HD58X or HD6XX is good enough as a pair for TV/movie watching, and the fact that HD58X can still be kind of driven properly even with integrated headphone port may be a plus. Personally I don't mind attaching my HD58X with the laptop through SDAC and Magni 3 when watching a movie, but I guess most people do.
I do not listen to audiobooks but do appreciate you trying to pick up some differences there. Just as you said, maybe HD58X is mostly different on "taste", especially when it comes to non-music stuff (TV/movie/audiobook).
Interesting question on Bose. I seldom attach my Bose to the laptop through a wire, because one of the advantages for QC 35 is wireless. Regardless, I will do the comparison with and without Magni 3 and let you know. From what I see on QC 25 (which is basically the wired version of QC 35), turning ANC on and off makes a big difference on sound quality. Bose always sounds better with ANC on. That makes sense because they are known for their ANC aren't they? It is not until recently Sony overtook Bose on ANC with the latest headphone. Before that you could argue all the way on various things but when it came to ANC, Bose was the undisputed king. I am not treating Bose seriously for music listening at home because all those added electronics for ANC mess with the original sound. Audiophiles spend big money to go extreme and remove little traces of noises in the whole system but ANC is actually doing the contrary by introducing "more noises" (cancelling ambient noises by making up something that is not originally in the source). :D ANC makes so much sense in noisy environment but is basically useless and even ruining sound quality in quiet one like home. I am hearing that Senn is quite good even with ANC turned off, but Bose is always worse when ANC is off.
The evolving part of HD58X seems fascinating. I guess that is why you haven't sold them yet? I read lots of reviews and most people seemed to experience the same. i.e. HD58X just grows on them. I don't know. Personally I also like it more than the first couple days when it first arrived. Guess I will give it more time to see what is going on. I listen all kinds of music. Classics, pop, country, electronics and new-age etc. My favorite is new-age (Enya, Secret Garden) and country (Shania Twain) but I also listen BGMs in Japanese anime (I guess the majority is pop mixed with electronics) a lot.
Oct 22, 2018
noapp
7
Oct 24, 2018
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OK I have been playing with Magni 3 in the last two days and here is what I feel about Bose. QC 35 without ANC on is disastrous. It is like covering your ear with a cup and hear the music. With ANC on, however, it is as if the pair becomes open-back. The air feels like flowing through with the music. That is why I only did the comparison with ANC on. When I say without Magni 3, it means QC 35 is connected to SDAC directly. The volume in this case is loud enough that I tune down to 40% on my computer. "With Magni 3" means connecting to the amp with lo gain. I need to use high gain for HD58X, otherwise the volume is a bit low. But for QC 35, lo gain is enough. To my surprise, I did hear the difference with Magni 3. I am not sure whether that is placebo effect. There is one animation song where I can feel the "ding" effect in some of the highs with HD58X. I cannot hear such effect through QC 35 without the amp, and the volume is already unbearably high. With an amp, however, I can hear the effect and the volume is still quite acceptable. Just to reflect what you said about HD6XX, the amp is like a smart chip that makes QC 35 bearable. It also gives some texture to QC 35. I did hear some of the unique sound from a cello with amp. Without the amp, such uniqueness is completely gone. I must add that nothing, even with the amp, compares to HD58X. They are miles apart and I almost ran back to HD58X after finishing the comparison. Different pairs for different situations. The effects on the lows seem to limit to punch-ness. With the amp, the lows feel punchier. That is basically all I can hear with and without an amp through QC 35. Strangely, with the amp I did hear more white noises through QC 35. I did not pick up such noises even with HD58X. The only time when I hear such noises through HD58X is when connecting it directly to the headphone port on my computer. My guess is that QC 35 is not designed with amp in mind and therefore the amplification kind of messes with its sound.
I have been listening through Magni 3 with HD58X in the past two days and I feel an amp gives HD58X more characteristics. It is like coloring the sound. Without an amp, I wouldn't call the sound of HD58X "dry", but with an amp, the sound does feel more "vivid". I also compared the headphone port on my computer with SDAC/Magni 3, and I can easily hear white noises on the headphone port. That noise still faintly exists on SDAC/Magni 3, but to the extent where I won't be able to tell if not intentionally looking for it. Interestingly, some of the "noises" heard through the headphone port, turn out to be some unique sound from strings. I think by giving HD58X the right "color", the amp kind of improves resolution/correctness.
I want to say that even with the amp, HD58X is still no match for ER4P-T on resolution and details. But I am quite satisfied with the improvement. HD58X also seems more fun than ER4P-T, especially on movies/TVs. It is definitely warmer and fuzzier than ER4P-T. With the amp and burn-in, HD58X seems still improving everyday. Guess I would just keep it and save up for something drastically different. (Definitely not HD6XX I guess. It still seems too close to HD58X. Maybe some planar? :D I don't like closed-back for sure. Not a huge fan for bass.)
Oct 24, 2018
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