They arrived! Yesterday in fact; though I’ve not had much time with them so far (just a few hours), and so far I’ve only tried the 3.2 version “Soundframes” (drivers).
A few things to note before reading, what are very much first impressions, further:
First, the 3.1 and 3.2 soundframes are intended to be matched with different types/levels of amplification and I’m told have a substantial impact on how sound is rendered … it’s not just about how easy/hard to drive they are. And, again, I have only tried the 3.2 soundframes so far, so results could vary significantly when I swap to the 3.1.
Second, I am by no means at a place where I have these “dialed” in. These are just first impressions as I work to figure out if/how they’re going to work with/for me and what strengths/weaknesses/quirks I encounter along the way.
They are beautifully made and feel a lot more solid than they look, even given that the top of the frame is just a thin band of metal. Cable entry is single-sided, but there are connections on both sides of the units, so you can have it whichever side you like. The connection on the headphone itself is 3.5mm TRRS and is wired for balanced operation.
Fit and positioning is, so far, rather fussy. It is made somewhat easier due to the “Soundframes” (the drivers/wings) being individually height adjustable, and how open they are is also a per-driver setting. I am definitely taking advantage of that, as my ears are not exactly the same height.
One positioned they stay reasonably well put … just taking them on and off won’t move them, but they don’t “lock” … it’s just a friction fit. For height there is a graduated scale on either side so you can make a note of where you have them and easily set them back in the same position if you accidentally move them.
So far I am fiddling with their positioning more than I am not … as I have not yet found a sweet spot for sound that is also comfortable (at least for more than a few minutes). I went through this with the Abyss as well, and once figured out it was not an issue any more - so absent hot spots or just coming down to a raw “isn’t going to fit me” situation, I expect this will be temporary and only mention it by way of expectation-setting.
In terms of sound … and, again, first-impressions on the 3.2 soundframes …
I expected bass levels to be significantly affected by how wide the “soundframes” are set. It is - profoundly. It drops off very rapidly as you open up the angle on the drivers. However, I was not expecting the change in volume to be so pronounced by how open they are set. That shifts enough that opening them all the way means switching output power levels on the amp.
Range of motion on the drivers, at about 40 degrees, is much smaller than the SR1a, which can be literally turned to fire way from you (not very useful, of course). Stage depth increases as you open the drivers, but for me the bass and volume drop-off occurs so fast that to run them wide-open would render them a bit pointless.
In fact, so far, to get satisfying bass levels (think neutral rather than elevated) I have to have the driver pads just touching my ears. I don’t like that very much - and is possibly a deal killer as its both a comfort and a sound issue.
Haven’t played with EQ nor the 3.1 soundframes and no doubt have more tuning to do in terms of placement, so this isn’t an issue just yet - just an observation.
If I forget about comfort/fit for a bit and just talk about sound in raw terms, with the drivers fully closed down the bass is at a level mostly similar to things like the Utopia. The overall signature is a tad brighter here - more so than I hear with the SR1a, but is closer to studio-neutral than it is “actually bright”. Resolution/detail and speed are at least comparable to the Utopia. Not sure on dynamics yet, but (so far) they’re quite punchy. Bass is clean, articulate, fast and tight … none of the nasties that often occur with traditional driver designs … it’s really only the level that’s a potential issue.
I like what I am hearing … enough to be encouraged that these might just do what I’m looking at them to do. And are more than good enough to be something I will spend every minute of the available demo time (7 day) with getting dialed in and experimenting.
In terms of driving them …
They were fine off my Hugo TT 2 (on low power mode) as long as the drivers were not set too wide. On high-power mode there’s much more power than they need (or can take). The portable Hugo 2 has no problems driving the 3.2. In fact while fiddling with bass this morning (in the office) I accidentally drove the MySphere to their excursion limits (and this is the harder to driver version I’m playing with at the moment). My Cayin N8 in P+ mode, on medium gain, was also powerful enough, though for quieter pieces, switching to high-gain gives a bit more headroom on the volume control.
Anyway, more after I swap over to the 3.1 soundframes and see what changes occur there, after which I’ll also hopefully be through the “fit/comfort/sound” adjustment period and can focus on which driver version and raw sound evaluation.