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Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee Headphones
Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee Headphones
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Just got my set of headphones around a week ago, delivery of which took 13 days, which is speedy for Scandinavia, where I live. I waited until the 58X had seen some use, and i had tried them out in various combinations of straight from the source or with the MCTH in between. Warning: Wall of Text incoming.
TL;DR: The 58X are fantastic and paired with the MCTH sound even better. Longevity and repairability remains to be seen. Let the modding commence!
My MCTH shipped a day after the 58X, but took close to an extra week(18 days total) to get here, due to no fault of Massdrop i might add. Without digressing, let's just call it a dysfunctional local P.O., and by that i do not mean Parole Officer ;) Postnord = luck of the draw/3rd world postal service, at best. Would in fact love it if Massdrop would consider teaming up with Budbee or another national service for Sweden/Nordic territories, i feel incredibly lucky just to have gotten my packages.
Before i'd perform any serious listening in my regular 2-channel rig I wanted to know how the MCTH+58X combo would render various sources, and also take this opportunity to listen to the unit(s) breaking in.
So, at T+4 hours of the MCTH+58X combo, i'm really enjoying listening to my old favorite tracks off the trusty Sony R30. I also used E-MU Tracker pre and mac mini's builtin DAC as sources. Tracker sounded better than the mini, but the Sony blew them both out of the water, plus i had a tonne of ATRAC-compressed material(the Sony is a first-gen Minidisc player). I've listened briefly to the headphones when brand-new in the main 2-channel setup which is Squeezebox-Subbu DAC-Musical Fidelity B1, sounded promising.
From a pro headphone perspective i could see myself using the 58X(And in fact the MCTH as well) for sound design and mixing/mastering work, to my ageing ears they are very neutral-sounding, definitely something i could get used to, as long as i had a quiet studio.
Listening(Dire Straits - Once Upon A Time In The West, Chicane - Offshore & Fatboy Slim - Rockafeller Skank) to the "MC58X" combo i'm struck by an uncanny way of sounding just right in the midrange, and with surprising amount of information towards the frequency extremes. The presence, the feeling of being right there. Acoustic guitar excels but also classic, rock, reggae, world music, pop and EDM all seem to benefit from that "almost magic" midrange clarity and fidelity. One of the very best qualities of the headphones is the attack of instruments and sounds. I've A/B tested the sources with & without the MCTH in the signal chain, and it merely provides power to the signal, does very little alteration or colouration. Timing-wise it is transparent. I'll likely do a follow-up once i have a few hundred hours in the main rig.
On comments that 58X won't scale as well with gear, while that may very well turn out to be true in one way or another, i'm still holding out, however, for the 58X modding scene to begin in earnest, as a relative headphone noob it sure has been/continues to be a lot of information to assimilate, thanks to the amazing community for that. Some have mentioned tracking issues, not sure if i got lucky or what but the pot in my MCTH is exceedingly even through it's range. I haven't quite dared push the volume much farther than my comfort zone(past 3 pm on the dial), and i haven't done any measurements, so YMMV.
For any one of you who are just getting your headphones: Yes i know the Clamp is real but trust that it will get better, and don't try to bend them or w/e, they are known to snap. Just wear them or leave them stretched over something for a bit.
Some pessimists/detractors feel annoyed/cheated about committing their cash ~6 mos in advance, vs waiting out the drop and getting in on the left-overs. I've been in my share of GBs, and usually left-over inventory is offered well after the initial shipment is done, with buyers who changed their minds and cancelled, didn't pay etc, leading to units having been ordered(and paid for) well in advance, and the risk of sitting with inventory you couldn't sell.
Massdrop is taking a concept which used to be a risky / loosing affair even if one did not consider the time invested as money, and turning it into a business, they deserve our support for now.
In fact i applaud MD for making sure they pushed every single 58X they made to the community, apart from the ones they kept or otherwise disseminated. I like the concept enough to support it, despite being in the 3rd world, tariff and service-wise.
I can't wait what Massdrop and Sennheiser could do with a HD800 deconstruction and re-engineering, stretched out over a year or more, for more of these back and forth between the community and the golden ears(read: younguns) and M&S. Something that would bring about the very lowest distortion in the midrange, the highest fidelity, and a fair extension in the extremes(not as critical as the midrange). To me the finest midrange wins.
There are really but two things that i really want right now from Massdrop and their Sennheiser brethren, and that is spare parts for the 58X, ideally shipped from the Sennheiser factory in Ireland(would save me 40%), specifically the driver + assembly(need to experiment with mine, and would rather not buy a complete headphone next round), and CEE_TEE could you please make an undrilled/custom-drilled chassis matching the dimensions of the MCTH et al, available to purchase? Ideally, Gb participants would submit their own graphics for silkscreen and CAD/CAM files for front & back panel drilling.
I have a sweet Salas PSU i'd like to incorporate into a matching chassis beneath the MCTH as well as house the PSU for the DAC i plan to transplant into the MCTH(after the warranty expires, of course). In short, love the chassis, where can i get one? Preferably before they turn up at the fleaBay ;)
Thanks to everyone involved for all the hard work you did and do, i do feel a bit privileged to be a part of it, and please don't let me down mid- to long-term on support. Keeping fingers crossed this will turn into a serious relationship like the RH-5MA , AKG K240 et al.
* I put an Amperex Bugle Boy in, so i haven't tried the stock tube, but by all accounts it does its job exceedingly well.
Thank you for the impressions, feedback, and requests SwedeKris!
At this time, we don't have a plan to try and offer un-drilled chassis but I will keep you in mind if this is something that is possible at a later date...
Also want to say that we do really appreciate your support and all of the support from our first purchasers of any launch. We were so excited about how the 58X turned out that we wanted to get everything we had into hands as quickly as possible. The initial plan was to get the first units out sooner to first purchasers than we did and surprise everyone by having the remainder available early too, but as things happen- the first units went out close to the extra units we had. Each launch is another adventure, we really hope that you enjoy these for years to come!
Did not read through that whole thing, that's a little too much, but I did some skimming.
In short, I picked up the massdrop alex cavalli cth (used), and I do also have the sennheiser 58x (new). The cth is not only the best amp I heard so far, but it really likes the 58x.
Just make sure you feed its appetite properly. DAC-wise i think I'm going for a Soekris in the near future, and am looking into interstage-coupled tube amps. I see lots of iron and lots of tubes in my future.
Hi, I have a question about the CTH if you could be of some help with.
The alex cavalli cth amp (got used), specs say it uses a maximum of 35 watts and 9 watts when idle. I am using a belkin conserve insight watt meter (simple but was really cheap). And so far it says the amp only uses about 12 watts either with headphone plug in or not.
Is 12 watts normal operation? And what makes it go up to 35 watts (would changing the stock tube affect that or something?). And how does the unit go idle, do I have to wait a certain amount of time with no music playing? Any 6922 tube should work right?
Yes I heard a dac would be advised to get the potential. When I get to testing the fiio q1 mark ii and ifi nano dacs, I'm going to use the CTH amp.
What are some high end options you would like to share? R2R and multibit come to mind.
Well, the choice really comes down to 1-bit vs multibit converter. I am a Sabre fan for years myself(specifically Subbu DAC v3, with Jean-Paul's beautiful PSU) and i do feel bitstream converters can get you quite close to the music, and mine is old by Sabre standards. Importance to sound DAC is about 40%, 40% is the PSU and the remainder, 20% is clock IMHO.
However, i am a firm believer in the law of diminishing returns, once you've gotten your fill of bitstream DACs, there is really only multibit. Soekris DAC modules paired with a suitable USB receiver, along with something to control the whole thing(some assembly required). Or buy something ready-made, but prices tend to start somewhat high.
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