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Mr. Speakers Voce

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So I've officially fallen off the wagon again as I got one of these just now.  I swore I was done buying headphones but clearly not...  So I just put them on my head so listening impressions will come later but first some over all impressions.  Now the case...the case is super retarded whoever came up with should be patted on the back for being super "special".  It's pretty much Head-fi in a case form, has wank factor off the scale but is utterly useless.  Way, way too heavy too. 

Now the cable, from the outside it looks well enough made but I will open it up to see what's inside.  The pins on the plug were all bent and it looks like the whole front of the plug has bent inwards as it is now concave.  Not sure if it was supposed to be like that but it has clearly deformed a bit.  I needed to bend the pins to get them to fit in our custom made sockets so something is off.  Now this is a used set so I don't know what abomination it was plugged into...  The rest of the cable is ok, I like the small splitter piece but the cable is way too microphonic for my taste.  Even the smallest tap is transmitted straight to the cups. 

Now the actual connectors for the cups...again we reach one of those "special" design choices.  So it looks like a DB9 plug (smaller though) but the actual contacts are tiny PCB mount parts so it is all for show.  I'll take some pics later but this is super stupid.  I'll also run some HV tests on it and see how it holds up as I zap it with some KV's. 

Now the actual phones, I like that they say "FLOW" on the headband which I presume is some other model.  Too costly clearly to make a new molding for this...  The earcups feel solid but those earpads are just crap.  They are pretty badly made and the opening is far too large.  They will be the first thing I'm going to tamper with.  Then we have the circa 3mm thick dense foam on the face of the driver...in 2018!!  Now this used to be the norm (though never for Stax) and the Koss ESP950 still has this but that's only because they haven't changed in nearly 30 years.  I'll try them first fully stock and then start to mess with them. 

Pics will come later as I start to take them apart too but first some listening...

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tenor.gif

Early ears on these (outside of the Cult Of Dan) were far from complimentary. I am horribly fascinated to see a) the pics b) your conclusions.

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Thoughts on Dan's Voce: I was Dude500 on Headfi (before banned for once being Hennyo), and stand by what I said about them on the first page of the brief Voce thread. They're not "bad" electrostats, but imaging is not quite there. 

Maybe the larger driver itself is what resolves less well than the smaller 009 or it's the stator design or the diaphragm. To my ears they're NOT as resolving as the 009, or 009S from BHSE and a -very nice sounding- DAVE dac, which Dan endorses.. 

I doubt the sound exactly-quite stands up to 3k. The 009 electrode I believe are (perforation pattern, ALSO smaller and more holes) superior and impact the detail reproduction from an electrostatic phone. Not sure about the 'S' as Stax backtracked a bit on those with etching around the holes in my honest OPINION, but I do enjoy the detailed sound from the diaphragm and tension on it in the S. While still sounding nearly as pleasant as the 009 diaphragm. The efficiency of the 'S' also is a bit less than the original 009. 2¢

I think that Dan/MrSpeakers could do better, and SHOULD do better, unsure if he'll rest on the Voce for now as he is possibly looking for new transducer material/tensions (and stator patterns). 

I think the Voce may not be reaching a large market because if they sounded more detailed they'd be great or better. Bass supported from the larger active area is alright, but I do prefer the 009 because it has well integrated detail-delivered; though the Voce is in part ok for listening to music casually. Interested in what you find.

Thanks for purchasing one Birgir-Spritzer. Thanks for Dan bringing it to market anyway, it did take a while to do so - I think that it's built fairly nicely but dislike like the slight to significant present Difference of the 009'/S detail; I can only speculate  ^

I enjoyed the 88mm driver size and I think that was chosen carefully. Maybe slightly smaller at 84 or 86 or so mm would be the best though, I may say that because 88mm is the cream-solution and I simply wish the driver was much more transparent/detailed in the Voce. This may be in a part due to the perhaps overly large inner-diameter pad opening that Spritzer and Kevin allude to.

Happy Halloween Headcasers' :) 

And Birgir or Kevin, want information on the KSE-1500 amplifier.. From yourself or KG. What has been said is the designer Knew their business.

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That box would just be a funny oddity if they didn't force you to buy it. I repeatedly suggested that they offer a version with their ether travel case for a few hundred less. It was met with the fiery denial of an evangelist.

Don't forget that these almost shipped with single sided covers until my self and a few other over there repeatedly pointed out what a disaster that would be. This also met with resistance, first feigning ignorance as to what we are taking about.. Then questioning if sealed drivers would work before finally giving in. 

They should have shipped with out the display case, custom plug, custom ear cup connectors and a simple protective mesh outer cover on the divers for 2k.

Edit:: and I hate coming across as being against other estat manufacturers besides stax. I'm the furthest from it I desperately want hifiman and mrspeakers in the game to push stax and vice versa. It feels like innovation died a decade ago in stats.

Edited by SeaWolf
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2 hours ago, SeaWolf said:

Edit:: and I hate coming across as being against other estat manufacturers besides stax. I'm the furthest from it I desperately want hifiman and mrspeakers in the game to push stax and vice versa. It feels like innovation died a decade ago in stats.

That's exactly the point, competition is good if people are one-upping each other or even just seeing an opening in the market for a certain product and exploiting it.  MEE-TOO!!  copies pushed on people by zealots...not so much.  People can argue about the tonality of the transducers all week but some traits are not up for discussion, is the product well made, is it safe etc. 

I'm going to upload some pics now...  :)

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So here are some pics as I begin to take these apart.  My main camera was out of juice so I just grabbed the phone for this.  Not perfect but blame Apple then...  ;) First off the Stax plug:

20181030_211624248_iOS.thumb.jpg.a71eac00fbd90070af73f4c48957b06f.jpg

It's hard to see but the pins are in this concave indent and clearly meant to be like that (see the next pic) but this might be why some of the pins arrived bent. 

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Put on a spare socket and twist to unscrew the metal cover.  Bonus shot of the new threaded teflon Stax sockets... ;D I'm glad they put heatshink over it all but it also means I won't remove it until I can completely take the cable apart.  To give them a fair shake they have to be as close to stock as possible.  The pins appear to be super long though by feeling around underneath it but further research will have to wait. 

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Here are the actual earcup connectors, spaced some 4mm apart according to the Mitutoyo.  I need to find out what these were originally used for but they follow the stock Stax wiring (center wire is bias) so they will be easy to convert to Stax wiring. 

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Here is the receiving end which ended up a bit out of focus.  I blame my friends at Apple...you know who you are...  :D  What this is like on the inside will have to wait a while as too busy to take them apart fully.  I did get here though...

20181030_211712571_iOS.thumb.jpg.1071a214db0c328edc8b5984445c8411.jpg

Pull off the earpad and remove the stupid foam pad to reveal pretty much what is on the outside.  The black bit is rubberized so we'll see how the baffle seal on these is. 

20181030_210817314_iOS.jpg

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Birgir could be right about the inner pad diameter being too large. In point, the Omega pads were quite a bit smaller than the 90mm active area. There's some reverberation bouncing off the side of your head because the pads are so large in diameter to the point that they don't come off very integrated and direct; the soundstage imaging rubs as sort of strange, all thoughts without any of the "tuning" foams in them.

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I'm in for the latter, one of the few to get the honor of my ignore list here.  I can only take a certain amount of inane ramblings... 

Now some impressions, system has changed a bit since last time as I got a Denafrips Terminator DAC plus it is now fed by a Kimber KS-2436 silver USB cable...not that it matters and I only got it to prove that point but it's there.  ;)  Amp is a stock Carbon which does look rather nice with the black aluminum Stax plug on these. 

They are certainly even more inefficient than the 007's but the Carbon drives them with ease.  In fact I'm not even at 12 o'clock so I could easily drive them into arc'ing if I wanted to pull a Ray on this.  Other aspects are just fine though, even though I can't stand the earpads the fit is just fine and the headband might work for those with silly large heads.  The cutouts in the leather might bother those though without a full head of hair.  The drivers are dead silent with no music playing so no dust migration issues. 

Anyway, I first tried them bone stock and initial impressions were ok.  Not great but I first thought "at least they don't do anything seriously wrong", I just pressed random on the playlist and some Thompson Twins came up which was a lucky stroke for them.  As soon as something else came up I noticed they just sound odd, the top end is both muffled and peaky at the same time, the midrange sounds distant and hollow and the bass has a very pronounced resonant frequency but limited extension.  The soundstage is vague and diffused compared to the better units but far from as bad as say the HE90's. 

Next step was to remove those foam pads from inside the drivers.  Now they are 5mm and not 4mm as I stated before (eyeballing while lifting up one end vs. actually measuring) and super dense.  This is nothing like the open cell stuff Stax used in most models from 1977, that presents limited to no restriction on the sound while this foam... it barely lets any light through it so impact on the sound is huge.  I'm a bit baffled why anybody would add this as removing it does wonders to the sound. 

Now where to start, everything is improved and much of the weird sound is gone.  The top end is a still peaky and uneven (so much so that I need to turn down the volume often) but far more open.  Same goes for the bass, that annoying "thump" is all but gone and the response is flatter and more natural.  Extension is still limited compared a properly setup set of 007's but perfectly adequate.  There is some of the same uneven bass response as the 009's and 009S's as they have problems with the same test tracks but I can live with it.  Now for the all important midrange, yeah you guessed it, more open and "there" right in front of you.  Now the soundstage is a bit lost and lacks the layering and depth of the 007's but compared to most out there, perfectly fine.  There is still some reverb clearly audible but swapping out the pads should take care of that but we will know for sure soon. 

So the bottom line is, if you own one of these, remove the fucking foam!!  This is a discussion we've been having for decades with the HD580 and all the successors so yeah... adding damping like that is about as retarded as the whole sorbothane BS.  Don't try to tune electrostatics like this, it will never work.  Change the earpads, change the distance of the drivers to the ears, change how the drivers are built but never, ever throw some foam on there and think you did a good job.  Fucking pathetic....  Anyway, sorry for the rant but this bothers me so much as it is just so lazy.  Now next step will be to swap out the earpads and I want to stick with something anybody can get so none of my custom made pads are eligible.  This might take a while as I need to take stock and see what I currently have...  :)

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these headphones stopped by in Chicago on their way to Iceland, I listened for a couple of hours. My initial comments was that they were very sterile, but really I think it was the complete lack of imaging that is the problem. removing the foam probably fixed a bunch of that. The stax plug is a major fuckup. And I don't see why. Everyone else including stax,hifiman,kingsound,chinsettawong,birgir and Justin are capable of making plugs that are the right dimensions, no reason why this has to be a piece of crap.

Yes they are about 6db less efficient. And the case is some kind stupid.

I did not measure the capacitance of the cable, but i'm going to bet that its twice that of the stax made cables. birgir will hopefully do that.

Next up the monoprice things once they actually start shipping.

Edited by kevin gilmore
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The imaging issue is similar to Kingsound so yeah, quite sterile and unnatural sounding. 

I'll measure the capacitance and throw some KV at the cable too.  ;)  

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18 hours ago, brazilnut79 said:

Happy Halloween Headcasers

I want to feel sad on Halloween. Why should I go/care for your opinion?

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I haven't had enough time to spend on this but I did throw on the EP-007 pads and the results weren't great.  The sound was improved over all, better bass and the rough treble smoothed out but the imaging is still crap.  Then I got a crazy idea, what about turning these into pretty much large SR-X's....?  Well I had some ATH-2002 pads (I think, had them for well over a decade) and they are completely flat and pretty thin.  Now this means the pads will give zero aide for the imaging but it has done wonders for the rough top end and made the bass a bit too flat.  Still an interesting experiment and I'll keep them like this for a while as they are quite comfy with these pads. 

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So over the last couple of months I've had the Voce connected to my main system and tried to pad roll to get them to sound...well decent.  The AT pads I talked about above did last for a while until the drawbacks were just too much.  Fun experiment though and well worth it if you want to play with the phones a bit. 

Next up were some random leather earpads off ebay but none of them worked quite as I wanted.  Most are clones of the "Fostex" type of pads which are after all just clones of the 007 pads... 

So I thought, why not keep it in house and try the Mr. Speakers Ether pads.  Angled Ether Flow pads to be precise and they are a massive step up from the stock ones.  Now the sound has some imaging, the bass isn't weird and the top is much smoother.  Not perfect though and sometimes it struck me how much the headphones were altering the sound. 

So I bought some more pads and I'm now using the ZMF Universal pads (I think, ZMF threw them all in a single box with no labels as to which was which).  Similar sound as above but they lack some focus and excitement over the Ether Flow pads.  Still I might prefer these as the bass is now pretty clean and the treble is not annoying 99% of the time. 

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I'm still scratching my head, how on earth did it win so many award if it sound the way it is stock form??

It won headphone of the year 2018, HOW?

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Well that is always an option and one that has been levied against the press for decades.  The awards have always somehow correlated with how much they spend on advertising and other ways to grease the wheels...funny how that works. 

Another way to look at this though is that anybody who claims to be "a reviewer" is a clueless fucktard just looking for recognition.  They don't actually have any true insight into this, let alone experience to make meaningful comparisons, they can just wax lyrically about some utter BS that nobody understands.  I do wonder how many electrostats those "reviewers" had experience with before awarding this best of 2018.  If you don't have any frame of reference, it is easy to be seduced and not scratch the surface of how these actually sound. 

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