On Friday April 10th 2020 we held a live stream of almost four hours during which we discussed twelve headphones. We showed measurements and demonstrated to you – via a modified version of Harriëtte – how they perform. And for those of you who want an overview: here you are! Let’s have a look at what we discussed. And at the end you can watch the live stream again. With all the samples.
We tested all headphones on a Neve Fidelice EU headphone amplifier. Also, the Felix Audio came along and we have the Hifiman Susvara to check out the Viva Egoista 845 EU. A beast.
We use the Metrum Acoustics Ambre Roon endpoint with a Pavane d/a converter as a source. We use this combination all the time: it is part of our reference set. The entire network is galvanicaly ‘disconnected’ with OM3 fiber cable. We also use energy filters. The Istotek (Titan) and Shunyata.
Let’s start with the class up to 500 euros.
Meze 99 Classic
The Meze 99 Classic is an over ear, closed headphone with a 40mm mylar driver. For the money an insanely good headphone. The Classic 99 is, in terms of sound signature, on the warm side but certainly not too bassy. Extremely easy to drive, also with a smartphone. The special design, beautiful finish and use of wood makes it an eye-catcher and earcatcher.
The Hifiman Sundara is a true game changer. The Sundara is – like many Hifiman-models – a planar headphone. To put a magnetostat on the market that performs so well is a huge achievement. This entry-level Hifiman already shows what the higher priced models are capable of. Of course it can be more sophisticated, and more PRAT is possible. But for 349 euros these planar headphones are unbeatable. Just really involving. A pair to enjoy… highly recommended.
The Final Audio B3 has two balanced armature drivers. The difference with the Final B1 is subtle but clearly audible. First the bass response, which is a lot more neutral compared to the B1. We find the soundstage a little less in comparison with the B1 but that is compensated by an even more refined reproduction.
This can also be explained technically; the dynamic driver in the B1 gives a stronger bass reproduction than the balanced armature drivers in the B3. The double balanced armature drivers in the B3 give an even more beautiful midrange reproduction. The whole (high/mid/low) is well balanced. The ear has a good fit as well, something you wouldn’t expect because of the cubistic design.