Bowers and Wilkins Headphones

P1200012I wonder what people’s opinions are on B&W headphones? Reason I ask is because my opinion on the sound quality of the P5 and P7 has changed from an initially negative one (1st listen to demo pairs in a shop) to an extremely positive one (once I owned them) and recently back again to negative (once I heard something better, but not more expensive).

There is no doubt that these models are mostly very well reviewed – all except for Which? reviews, which has had the audacity to award most B&W headphones ‘don’t buy’ status – well below 40% on their review scale. In fact I commented to Which? on this anomaly, very indignantly stressing how wrong they were and that their reviewers must have cloth ears and/or have the ‘phones plugged into a transistor radio, etc etc. This was during my middle, ‘positive’ opinion phase.

Now I’m starting to see Which?’s point.

Do we just get used to a sound and never be truly objective, or do we only hear the real worth of a hifi component when we compare it with something far superior?

Do headphone cables have sentience?

Or are they possessed? Either way, they have an uncanny ability to get trapped under feet, furniture, pets, chairs.. but mainly my own feet. No matter how careful I am, as soon as I stand up or move in any way, there’s that familiar tug (stop sniggering at the back there) against your head as the living cable tries to wrench the headphones off your head. Mind you, the AKG’s do have rather a long cable. But I swear the cable creeps under my feet of its own accord. DSC_1216Would somebody please invent a repellent cable which automatically moves away from objects ? Thanks awfully.

Does ‘ripping’ from a CD affect quality?

I may not have golden ears (they’re silver, remember?), but I have never been able to detect a difference in quality from a ripped CD. However just the other day I was listening an album recorded on my phone (from a CD), then ‘cast’ via google’s Chromecast Audio (which is supposed to transmit data be bit perfect and uncompressed). I was listening via my NAD pre-amp, Arcam power amp and Castle speakers – one of a variety of systems I have built over the years. I then put on the original CD and sent it via the same DAC (the mojo) via its co-ax connection and onwards through the same analogue chain.

The difference was actually quite stark. And that was allowing for gain differences (not always easy but with practice on the volume control and repetition I can learn to discount this factor).

Although the cast version continued to be perfectly pleasant and listenable, compared to the CD, the bass was flabby and the imaging was quite noticeably more 2D, confining layered female singing voices to left and right, whereas the CD brought them out in from of the speakers to a certain extent. I am quite surprised by the less than subtle results here.

I know that I am in fact comparing more than one change at a time (CD direct versus a rip copied to a phone and cast via another piece of hardwear, but that said, in theory the above all takes place in the digital domain and should be transparent.

Anyone have any comments on this? Feel free to say I’m imagining the differences – it’s all digital innit? or conversely, that what was I expecting- I’m comparing apples and oranges … discuss…..

Hifi cliche alert- new kit allows me to hear details on familiar tracks that I’ve never heard before!

EPsunshineofyourlovePORTU_60581
Image from; http://7inchrecords.com/Discography/Cream/EPsunshineofyourlovePORTU_60581.jpg

Oh my lordy! I was taking a break from listening to new music and put on an old classic; Eric Clapton / Cream – Sunshine of your love. Has anyone else heard yelps and subsonic thumps near the end of the track? I’m listening on my AKG K712Pro’s and Chord Mojo ; walking around like a fool with wires and hardwear in every pocket. But increasingly I’m finding it hard to listen to anything else; even speakers.. the sound from this set-up just makes me smile, smile and smile some more.

I did a quick google and also replayed the section a few times to ensure I wasn’t just hearing something from outside (the AKG’s have virtually no sound isolation), but no, the studio sound is there. Impressed much. This is why I’m into hifi. Little moments like that, justifies the money I’ve spent over the years.

Yes, I know there is hi-fi / head gear out there costing £$Thousands per component, but I firmly believe that the law of diminishing returns means that even with the equipment I have, I am at least two thirds of the way to the best possible and most accurate music reproduction.  Not that I want to risk a life of debt, sadness and upgraditis (unfulfillable) by actually listening to mega-top-end kit…

Chord Mojo versus Dragonfly

2018-03-27 21.04.21So, i’m getting to grips with this baby. The reviews are mostly accurate I’d say, but DAC’s (albeit ones with a headphone amp built-in), are always gonna be subtle, compared to headphones, speakers or amps. I tend to back away slowly with arms raised, from any reviews which claim a ‘night+day’ revolutionary difference between DACS.

I consider myself to have, if not golden ears, then certainly silver ones and it took me at least half an hour after set-up in the shop, to start to be able to put into words the differences I was hearing between my Dragonfly DAC and the Mojo.

So, the Mojo has a smoother sound, but that smoothness does not, to my ears, result in any decrease in detail. Quite the opposite in fact. This, to me indicates that the smoothness is an innate characteristic of the hardwear, rather than the shortcut which i feel some lesser devices employ- simply filtering off higher frequencies to give an ‘analogue’ type sound. Um, no.

The Dragonfly, on the other hand, made vocals stand out that little bit more- they were less a part of the whole soundstage and more distinct, yet flatter sounding. Overall though I prefer the Chord and it’s soundstaging is magnificent; when used in line-out mode through speakers, I was hearing layered female vocals, way out from the speakers. That said, for the purposes of this comparison I was not able to use the Dragonfly through speakers.