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New "Electrostatic" on the block THE SONOMA MODEL ONE ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONE SYSTEM

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6 hours ago, JimL said:

Yes, but if you look at the diagram, there is no other stator.  There is only a stator on one side - in fact they brag  about the fact that there is no second stator.  Perhaps the DSP is also needed to correct for that?

They could coat the spacer with something conducive but yeah, I doubt that is the case.  Pure single ended shit with all sort of weirdness.  Pure win!! 

4 hours ago, mypasswordis said:

Has anyone actually measured and posted results about the claimed diffraction and turbulence caused by the stators of ESLs or magnet structure of dynamic planars? The distance from stator to diaphragm is almost infinitesimal compared to any human(ly audible) acoustic frequency. Even at 20kHz it's about 17mm compared to the ~0.5mm distance between stator and diaphragm. Hifiman straight up copied the Fazor design from Audeze with the Edition 6, and Ether has its "flow" magnet structure, so "fixing" it is clearly the FOTM. But how much difference does it actually make, and what are the tradeoffs? Clearly for the single-sided Abyss, which seems to the dynamic planar version of the Sonoma, the tradeoff is it measures like crap with a lot of even and odd order harmonic distortion that's very nonlinear (based on distance between diaphragm and magnet) and epic underdamping becaus no isodynamic restoring force. Maybe @arnaudcan bring some light to the whole situation. At headphone driver distances to the ear (maybe an inch or even less) vs. the size of the radiating surface, what exactly does the acoustic wave propagation look like with a planar? Can they in fact be approximated with plane waves, and how much is affected by the magnet or stator structure? Obviously the magnets need to be larger than stators so the effect is more pronounced. I did briefly skim over the HF discussion about the Shangri La using a mesh stator. 

Now...now... don't drag things like science into this!!  It should be clear to anyone that the stators stand in the way of the sound molecules and there is no way the bass ones can get through those small holes!!  Just like Ray said about the wires, they have to be thick enough for the bass to get through.  ;)

In all seriousness, the stators aren't a problem in any way that I can see and getting rid of them, or making some flimsy as shit mesh stator will make everything worse.  Can you even imagine how hard it is to make the Shangri-La stators actually run parallel to one another?  Pretty much impossible I'd say let alone what happens when you start playing something.  Hello high distortion electrostatic!! 

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18 hours ago, charlo89 said:

Analog -> digital -> analog -> trash

I'm pretty sure you'd use analog in this case only to connect a phono preamp. Otherwise it's a DAC/AMP unit.

As for DSP, I'm probably biased, but I've never encountered any headphone which lost more than it gained by properly applying measurement based tonal correction. With stuff like this available I see no point in using regular USB->I2S converters. Bake in a profile for headphones and a different one for your speakers/room. Switch with remote.

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I was reading some of their PR bullshit and the cable section was interesting.  First of all...it has a loop going through it so if the cable is unplugged then the amp will shut off.  Seems to be 4 wires going to each cup and they do mention that:

Quote

There is no shared ground between the left and right channel signal cables

Interesting... Well not but why put ground anywhere in an electrostatic system. 

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I am a fan of DSP myself and I have had very good results in the past. That said there is a lot of stuff it can't fix due to the nonlinearity...

For the record analog-digital-analog is part of the mastering chain of nearly every piece of music in the last 20 years.

Not saying that these headphones are good or not. They could be complete shit.



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.......  but,     but...... Schiit doesn't make headphones.........!

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Couple interesting things from Tyll's review.  First, Sonoma says they DO use DSP for distortion correction on the single-ended driver.  Second, the distortion measurements show approx 1% 2nd harmonic at 95 dB, 500 Hz, and 3% 2nd harmonic distortion at 105 dB.  Also note the THD levels at 100 dB are in the 1-5% range from 200 Hz to 3 kHz - curiously they are lower below 200 Hz, where you would expect higher distortion due to increased diaphragm excursion - could that be where the DSP is being applied?  By comparison the THD levels for the SR007 and SR009 are in the 0.1-0.5% range at 100 dB throughout the entire audio range.

Edited by JimL

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Yup. They had to squeeze everything they could out of that thing to make it work...and they just couldn't squeeze hard enough to get it to work above a certain level. I wonder if they're going to be satisfied or go back to the drawing board, put in a front screen, and drive it like a normal electrostat. 

Actually I think the best move that could be made is that the Sonoma digital dudes start building a regular headphone amp with DSP and start making a library of headphones to compensate. If they didn't have such a bitch of driver they had to work with I think their digital chops would shine through.

PLease don't quote this elsewhere.

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Yeah, it was a lot of effort to just try and tame a really, really unruly driver.  Better spend that on dynamic headphones rather than lock it into a system like this. 

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Wow, who would have guessed a normal electrostat would be better than a single-sided driver with DSP correction? Definitely seems like an interesting exercise in engineering, but a SR-207 + SRM-252 will outperform it at $600 new

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So balanced electrostats have a linear response with respect to the amount of movement of the diaphragm vs voltage. That is because the dual non-linearities of each stator balance out the position of the diaphragm with respect to voltage.

single ended electrostatics do not do this. So higher voltage swings result in more distortion than lower voltage swings. pretty much an exponential curve.

throwing piles of dsp at the problem likely only fixes some of the problems, and then is subject to temperature and humidity of the room.

The only known version of this that was ever successful was the beveridge loudspeaker. And the acoustic lens allowed for very small movements in the diaphragm to generate substantial sound levels. Which is what happens when the diaphragm is 6 feet x 1 foot.

this is going to be epic fail.

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People at Canjam NYC heard it already, including myself. I wanted to believe I was wrong that it sucks, but can confirm it is a fail and extremely uncomfortable on top of that. Why spend $5000 on a headphone setup that just sounds average and can't be used with anything else? They keep claiming that the HPEL driver is low cost and easy to match... if so, why are they charging $5000? It is good value when compared with the abomination that is the $50k Shangri La, but so is pretty much everything else on planet earth.

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59 minutes ago, mypasswordis said:

People at Canjam NYC heard it already, including myself. I wanted to believe I was wrong that it sucks, but can confirm it is a fail and extremely uncomfortable on top of that. Why spend $5000 on a headphone setup that just sounds average and can't be used with anything else? They keep claiming that the HPEL driver is low cost and easy to match... if so, why are they charging $5000? It is good value when compared with the abomination that is the $50k Shangri La, but so is pretty much everything else on planet earth.

Average at 5k and still gets Wall of Fame ? thats weird.

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Yup. To reiterate my post from moths ago, I have to wonder why they chose a technology that's designed to cut costs for a high-end driver. Obviously it underperforms. The DSP portion of the system looks good, and I have to wonder how it will do with a more competent pair of headphones.

Also, I don't get the idea of selling an all-in-one solution at $5k. Surely people looking to spend that much already own a decent source and maybe an amp or two, and taking advantage of the ecosystem already in place would be better than trying to sidestep it entirely with a high-priced product. Yes, when you consider the total costs of what this system replaces the pricetag isn't that crazy, but when you consider that the customer has probably already invested a lot into other systems, it is.

I don't get this one, but the idea of good DSPs fixing FR problems in high-end headphones is promising.

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I think that is one of your best-written pieces, Tyll, and a very fair take on the system. I think you do a great job of explaining the subtleties of the system and what it does and doesn't excel at. I feel a bit bad for the Sonoma guys when I see them at shows, as the system just doesn't hold up to the SPL needed to overcome room noise. Doubly so when I am showing the 009/BHSE right next door. But it is twice the price.

Sent from my LG-US996 using Tapatalk

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1 hour ago, Spychedelic Whale said:

Average at 5k and still gets Wall of Fame ? thats weird.

That is indeed weird that you assumed I put it on my hall of fame, or that I even have one, when I clearly stated I think it sounds worse than an entry level Stax setup, which measurements prove.

Edited by mypasswordis

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5 hours ago, mypasswordis said:

That is indeed weird that you assumed I put it on my hall of fame, or that I even have one, when I clearly stated I think it sounds worse than an entry level Stax setup, which measurements prove.

I believe he is referring to Tyll putting the Sonomas on his Wall of Fame.

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But.... but ...  it's a whole system.........  

But can it match an M50 with a ODac and amp....?

 

Deisions, decisions..... May still hold out for something vintage like an original iPhone and Monster Beats.......     :ph34r:  :wacko:

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Yeah and I have some major reservations about the amp they are using.  Any claims of real current delivery have to be treated with skepticism as there are no heat-sinks...

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9 hours ago, spritzer said:

Yeah and I have some major reservations about the amp they are using.  Any claims of real current delivery have to be treated with skepticism as there are no heat-sinks...

Which is interesting because they claim it's a single-ended Class A, which is normally 25% efficiency at the most - should mean lots of heat.  Supposedly the case is the heat sink, switching power supply (ugh - yeah, I know the SRM252 uses a switching PS but it's not in a $5000 system), "linear regulators" to the audio circuits, but I see no spec on their website about much power it draws from the AC line, which would allow a guess on how much voltage and current the amp draws.  Stax solid state amps run about 30-55 watts from the wall (except for the 252) and they are push-pull so theoretically more efficient than single-ended.  I doubt like hell that the Sonoma draws even that much or the case would be uncomfortably hot.

 

Oh, yeah, and the max output is 145 VRMS, so a single ended supply of 0 and 450 volts should handle that.  Plus MOSFET outputs, so easy to drive.:rolleyes:

Edited by JimL

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The push pull is still pure class A so in theory the Sonoma at the same bias would be half the power as long as the voltage swings  are similar

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I haven't heard these headphones, so I can't comment on their sound. The driver tech looks promising to me. No front stator means reduced reflections in the driver capsule, which is a good thing, but comes at the price of the linearity of a push-pull driver, as Gilmore stated earlier. Electrostatic force over distance follows an inverse square law; the force between two objects of steady charge decreases over the square of the distance.

DSP is, by far. the easiest way to deal with the nonlinearities. Doing it in the analog domain with the same precision as digital would be next to impossible. An R2R DAC with custom-chosen, nonlinear resistor values would also work, and would be my method of choice if I were making a system like this one.

I doubt the amp section is up to par with any Gilmore designs. What is in there is anyone's guess.

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30 minutes ago, 100VoltTube said:

I haven't heard these headphones, so I can't comment on their sound. The driver tech looks promising to me. No front stator means reduced reflections in the driver capsule, which is a good thing, but comes at the price of the linearity of a push-pull driver, as Gilmore stated earlier. Electrostatic force over distance follows an inverse square law; the force between two objects of steady charge decreases over the square of the distance.

This has been covered ad nauseam already, with many manufacturers trying similar things. Long story short, the proof is in the measurements, and it measures much worse than a conventionally driven Stax transducer even with the DSP. Theoretically, there is no humanly audible effect of a front stator with sufficient hole area, but even if there is, it clearly is vastly outweighed by the nonlinearity of driving the diaphragm single-ended. 

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Indeed, this "front stator reflection" crap comes from people who don't know anything about the subject or are trying to sell people luke warm single ended shit. 

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I was under the impression that it was a problem, or possible problem with electrostatic headphones. Sony took pains to avoid symmetrical reflections (same reflections from both sides) in their electrostatic headphones. That may have just been a marketing move, though.

Aranaud expressed that he sees reflections as a possible phenomenon in the head-fi shangra-la thread. That entire conversation between him, JaZZ and astrostar59 is interesting, and somewhat relevant to this headphone. If he has run simulations since then, I would be very interested in seeing the results.

Quote

To your other point about acoustic reflections from the stator for waves bouncing back and forth, that's a fair point indeed. That's actually something I discussed simulating with Dan from MrSpeakers but never been able to make time for it...

I do believe, though that this one small plus (if it is an audible phenomenon) is not worth all of the problems created by going single-ended, unless the problems are eliminated properly, which they may not have been in this implementation.

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