Massdrop "x" & Drop (Audiophile) - Official Thread

Hahaha! If anything I think there are many bassheads there (myself included— hi!). I just kept with their compensation 1kHz and below because I largely agree with many of the members there that bass frequency compensation should be kept flat so people can draw their own conclusions about balance etc.

Speaking of the GBuds and Harman target I actually don’t mind a subbass boost a la the TH900, but to call it neutral would be something of a stretch no? I do think HEQ shows things a bit brighter though, so there’s that going for the comp.

Arguments can be made that headphones and IEMs could stand to have more meat down low for a more speaker-like presentation, to make up for the lack of actual “slam” you’d normally get with speakers or live music, but that’s more a matter of personal preference I think.

1 Like

HPN target for EARS is pretty neutral imho. it’s more like Tyll’s compensation with flat bass/mids from 20 to 1K. The SBAF plot you have there looks like its rolled off even more than that, maybe DF like bass, or even more so.

1 Like

Well, much as I like the MiniDSP HEARS I feel comparing it to Tyll’s old rig is a bit optimistic :wink:

Haha, but joking around aside, while I do call this SBAF compensation (because it started out as that comp before I started tweaking it), this is really more my own compensation and is a work in progress. The bass is the way it is and will likely stay that way because that’s how I hear these headphones’ lower ends— sub-bass heavy before a lower mid scoop on the TH-X00 that makes it great for horror flicks and a gradual low-midbass hump on the HP-3 that adds body to instruments and male vocals.

Everything >5kHz is somewhat suspect though, mostly because I don’t hear the TH-X00 and HP-3 as having that much lower treble and there seems to be a few dB too little in the ~11kHz region v. my ears (3-4kHz is definitely off because silicone pinnae and weird ear tubes that don’t deserve to be called canals).

The main reason it’s still a WIP is that every single headphone I have at home at the moment either has very fluffy pads or is worn down to the point where they sound very different from stock. Pending borrowing a friend’s HD6XX that’s basically NIB, I plan to leave the comp with the slight imbalance as is. Also, I have never claimed to be an authority on measurements— these are to be taken relative to one another; had I something more useful as a baseline like the aforementioned new-in-box HD6XX to compare (it’ll happen eventually) then there’d be less guesswork on my part involved.

I did check out the HPN compensation when I was setting up. I don’t hear it as particularly neutral myself, but agree to disagree there— these are all relative, and I’ve never claimed to have perfect hearing.

EDIT: This is really rather off-topic. Let’s just agree I use a weird comp curve that’s not useful on its own without subjective impressions plus maybe other, better-known headphones to compare to :stuck_out_tongue:

3 Likes

Ears in general is kind of a mess. I have debated on beating it up with a bat in an open field a few times. :wink:

Anyway, I was planning on using the trx00 ebony for light music listening and watching movies and stuff so its cool you brought up the horror movie thing. These seem like they would be good for movies.

3 Likes

Trust me, I’m still very much tempted to use the silicone ears as Halloween decor and just slap foam and felt discs on to turn these into a flat plate coupler— at least then I might be able to generate useful impulse responses, CSDs, spectrograms etc. The fact that this EARS set was generously gifted to me by someone on a different forum (gee, wonder which one :P) means that I’ve no real compunctions about mutilating these XD

Back on topic, the sub-bass tilt definitely lends itself to movies! The middle-midrange hump also helps with vocal clarity, making it easy to follow dialogue; as for the mid-treble zing, it only ever really bothers me on music with loads of air to begin with, so it’s largely a non-issue. There’s definitely enough “space” in the headstage, but while the reverb does seem to improve sound localisation it does bollix things when there’s a lot going on. Just a limitation of the form factor I suppose.

Quick aside: I’m too much of a wimp (and frankly, not rich enough) to buy and play many horror games myself so I usually watch other people go through them on YouTube (shush, I know it’s a stupid interest, haha). I was watching someone play a relatively new horror game called Visage using the TH-X00s and there was an instant when I felt my eyeballs rattle in my head during a particular scene where the game was establishing a sense of tension via loads of low-frequency rumbles. It was memorable, to say the least.

Actual bass quality isn’t great on the X00s, but it’s not something you’d notice unless you were directly comparing to better, usually pricier headphones, given you’re driving them properly. I know they’re not for everyone, but I genuinely love the hell out of the X00 series and would probably still be using mine regularly if I hadn’t found another headphone that I largely (not categorically) prefer.

3 Likes

KOSS X Massdrop ESP/95x Impressions

First off I received these on loan through a program Massdrop is running on reddit. I figured that the massdrop thread was the appropriate place to post these. If you just want a Tl;dr there is a conclusion section at the end.

Build Quality

The Build is pretty lackluster with cheap plastic that I’m not a huge fan of, the 58x has much nicer plastic and feels a lot more premium because of this. I don’t think that it’s so cheap that it’s going to break unless you are just throwing it around and abusing it but it doesn’t feel like a $500 headphone. The energizer that it comes with also feels like it is made with a similar grade of plastic, and the RCA plugs on the back of the unit stick out slightly, but the holes are larger than the jacks so you can see the metal inside used to attach them to the chassis. This makes the unit feel a little like a diy project and not fully finished. The last thing I’ll comment on is the volume knob, it is split into two parts left and right channel, this is done because elctrostats can have problems with channel balance over time. This can make it really annoying to get the volume right especially in dim environments as you have to line up the dashes to make sure the left and right channel are balanced. I got used to it pretty quickly so I don’t consider it a deal breaker but it is something to note.

Comfort

Comfort on the 95x is very good the headphones are light, and the top pad is a nice leather that is very soft and doesn’t cause any pressure points or pain. The heaphones extended quite large, and while I have a small head I don’t think most people would have any trouble getting this headphone to fit on their head. The cups are fairly large and deep and so I never had any problems with my ears touching the inside of the ear cups or any other part. Overall comfort is great and I easily wore them for multiple hours at a time.

Sound

Bass

If I had to pick one word to describe the bass on these headphones it would be clean, if I got another word it would be tight. The bass is well controlled and super clean throughout the frequency range even down to 20Hz. However it very rarely exhibits any slam, and it always lacks any kind of visceral impact. If your a bass-head and want pounding bass this would be a headphone to avoid, but if you looking for more clean texture where you can hear every note even down low, the 95x is worth considering. It did respond well to EQ in the bass regions when I tested it out, but I did get what sounded like some driver distortion when using an eq to tune it closer to the hd58x, however this had some pretty extreme bumps in the bass region to do this so for most people you should be able to eq to your preference without issue.

Mid Range

The mid range on the 95x is extremely flat, this however does not make for a dull sound, it did make rock a little less “fun” and enjoyable, although not unlistenable, but every other genre I normally listen too, pop, punk rock, rap, and even electronic sounded very good and I enjoyed them a lot. I did find one album, “Origins” by Imagine Dragons, where the more upbeat songs on the album were not as “fun” as I am used to on the sets of headphones I have around the house. The more ballady songs on the album however were absolutely excellent. Voices, female and male, were extermely pleasent, and timber of instruments in the midrange seemed to my ear to be tonally correct except for a few exceptions (Most of the songs in the album “Sessions from the 17th Ward” by Amber Rubarth the guitar sounded just slightly off in timbre). Vocals were very intamate but didn’t seem to be “inside my head”, which was very welcome as it felt very much like the 58x but a little less closed in and closterphobic.

Treble

Treble was very clear crisp and detailed, there was quite a bit of air in the treble region and it did a good job of detailing the space in the recording. There were some instances where I did find it harsh but for the most part even listening to electronic music which had very high synths, and other instruments, I did not find it unpleasant. A few of the songs where I found it overly harsh were, “Novocaine” By Amber Rubarth, and “Love” By Imagine Dragons. If you are particularly treble sensitive I could see the treble response being a problem, and I would probably avoid this headphone or try to listen to it before purchasing.

Detail retrieval

Detail retrieval on this headphone was fantastic, I could easily pick out individual instruments, and voices in harmonies, however I could see how some people would consider the amount of detail to be over analytical. I would consider the amount of detail a slight step up from something like the HiFi man Sundara which is pretty impressive as these come in at the same price and the Sundara is already a fantastic value for it’s price in this area my opinion.

Sound-stage and imaging

Sound-stage on the 95x is somewhere between small and medium. I would probably place it slightly wider than the 58x but quite a bit smaller than the Sundara. Imaging is very good, on par with the Sundara and sometimes out classing it. On some tracks it was able to project a more 3d image, ie. in front and behind which I found very cool. Amber Rubarth’s “Sessions from the 17th ward” exhibited this quite a lot as the album was recorded using a binaural microphone. Overall I found the sound-stage and imaging to very good, and borderline excellent for the price.

Stand out songs

The entire Album “Sessions from the 17th Ward” By Amber Rubarth was exceptional on these headphones, this is a very well recorded album and these headphones show that off. Another excellently recorded album is “Spaces” Yosi Horikawa and these headphones kept up with all the intricacies and presented the album with an excellent amount of depth and detail. I have two other stand outs both of which gave me goose bumps when listening on these headphones. First is “Through it all” by Charlie Puth, from the moment the piano started I got goose bumps and was entranced until the end of the song. My last stand out is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, when the creepy voice at the end starts I immediately got chills, his voice sounded like it was right next to you and you could hear his every breath and the crackle in his throat as he spoke.

Conclusion

The ESP/95x is a very competent headphone, that is very detailed and has superb imaging, I competes very well at the price point that it is in. I think that for someone looking to get into electrostatics this is a great headphone to pick up. If your just looking for a great sounding headphone I would say this is a good pick up as well, with some minor caveats, if you tend to prefer a slightly less analytical sound, are a bass-head or primarily listen to rock music I think there are probably better options out there for you. However the headphones do respond extremely well to EQ so if you want the detail, then you can also EQ them to you preferred sound signature.

10 Likes

Nice review. Very informative. :+1:t4:

1 Like

I was tempted to buy this since I was curious how it sounds with KGSSV Carbon amp.

But I had refrained from the temptation.

I’m sure the answer to your curiosity is “it sounds better”

Great write-up. I love Amber Rubarth too. The ‘Session’s from the 17th Ward’ is a great recording.

4 Likes

DROP + JVC HA-FDX1 DUAL CARBON IEM

Couldn’t find anyone else talking about this and can’t start a new thread in the per-model board - please feel free to move!

Unboxing

In a personal first for me, Drop delivered a week early. Have too many unboxing pictures! :slight_smile:





One day earlier and I’d have had them at the mini-meet, though…

The Case

Had to hold it open for a good shot. Case feels nice in the hand and has some decent reinforcement - not at all crush-proof but I wouldn’t be worried about putting it in a bag…maybe even a pocket.

Two sets of filters are included along with five sets of JVC Spiral Dot tips; I don’t believe they’re the higher-end +/++ models as the stems are all black. They look and feel slightly different from my well-worn set of OG Spiral Dots. The included organizer is made of rather thin plastic.

The IEMs fit neatly with the cable attached; no way to fit the organizer in with them.

The Cable

The cable reminds me somewhat of the high-end Sony (IER-M9, IER-Z1R) cables. It’s hard to tell from photos but the cable is semi-flat under the splitter. The slider moves with more resistance than I’d like but clearly isn’t going anywhere once in place. I’m wearing the cable down - wearing it up is possible and reduces microphonics but the split length makes it a pretty close fit.

The IEM

One minor peeve - there’s enough space for “DROP HA-FDX1 DUAL CARBON” etched on the back ring (huh, no JVC anywhere on the IEM…) but I couldn’t find any indicator of L/R on either IEM. The cable has a clear L/R, at least. :slight_smile:

I’m a fan of the Spiral Dots so I’m not surprised that they fit snugly on the IEM and in my ears. Wearing them down I’m not getting much slippage.

You can see the small port behind the filter release switch.

The Sound

First, a disclaimer. I’m fortunate enough to have a stable of TOTLs; I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by these - and I was not blown away. I also haven’t had enough time to do much more than plug it in to my TA-ZH1ES - let alone try the different filters. I’ll update when I’ve had time to mess with the stock filters some more and properly tip roll.

For a DD, the bass weight/impact isn’t really there - Animus Vox’s slams, which sounds earth-shattering on my better gear, sound a little limp. I wouldn’t use it for large, booming, pieces - dramatic soundtracks et al don’t play to its strengths. However, the detail in the track is all there and I’m guessing that was an intentional trade-off.

The closest IEM I can compare it to is the Tin Audio T2 Pro except the FDX-1 is simply better across the board. The T2 Pro gets fatiguing relatively quickly but the FDX-1 doesn’t.

The sound, if lean, isn’t nearly as

Quick track impressions from Tidal + TA-ZH1ES using stock filter and stock (Spiral Dots silicone) tips:

Glitch Mob - Animus Vox

I love this track for the way it starts to build at 1:05 - some epic slams and spacious echoing along with a detailed little rhythm that gets completely drowned out on lesser IEMs. The FDX-1 gets the detail but doesn’t give me the cavernous feeling and resonant impact.

Cardigans - Lovefool

The vocals sound a little off - even more compressed than they actually are. The separation and layering, however, is spot-on. I don’t find myself sucked in to the track but I do find myself pleasantly picking out the tracks and enjoying the clarity.

Justin Timberlake - Say Something

The only nit I can pick here is that the soundstage sounds a little closed-in. The sub-bass is entirely there and the vocals are clear and smooth.

Florence + The Machine - Mother

Detail is there and the laid-back sections of the track sound great; all of the dynamics of Florence’s voice are there. The aggressive chorus, however, comes off as thin/lean.

Dua Lipa - Don’t Stop Now

The tight control of bass and detail really change the feel vs. my bassier IEMs. Enjoyable - even if it doesn’t quite sound like the same track. :slight_smile:

Miike Snow - Genghis Khan

Excellent, if vocal-forward, detail.

Darren Korb & Ashley Barrett - Bound Together

This track is a particularly challenging duet where Ashley’s voice can easily vanish (and you would be forgiven for assuming there’s some kind of postprocessing being done on Darren’s voice instead of another singer!) - and I can say that detail’s handled as well as it is on my TOTLs.

Various pieces of electronica, chiptunes, D&B

Meh, and I think I’m being nice with the meh.

Various pieces of 90s-era Rock (e.g. Blind Melon - No Rain)

Guitars sound great.

Comparisons

The FDX1 is a $300 1DD, making it the most expensive 1DD I’ve ever owned. These comparisons are mostly from memory - all of them IEMs I’ve owned were my daily carry for at least a week but that week might’ve been awhile ago…

(h/t Crinacle for having an easily searchable list of what’s in each IEM and the MSRPs - couldn’t for the life of me remember if the T2 Pro was 1BA 1DD or 2DD)

vs Comparably-designed IEMs I own

Sony MH755 ($7 1DD)

MH755 wins on bass but loses on technicalities; not exactly a fair fight.

Etymotics ER2XR ($150 1DD)

The ER2XR’s isolation - along with the rest of its line - is simply on another level.

First, a graph courtesy Crinacle’s measurements:

This might be due to the fit and isolation but I prefer the bass on the ER2XR more than the graph might suggest…but the ER2XR is something of a challenge for long periods of time.

I’d say ER2XR is a less detail-oriented tuning but somewhat more fun to listen to than the FDX1 - the ER2XR is more of what I’d expect out of a DD. It’ll be a hard call choosing between these two in my bag and I expect to A/B them quite a bit this week.

Of note, both come well-accessorized and are well-built. I love the FDX1 cable (although the long connector makes it a questionable call on my IEMs that are worn up, not down) and the Etymotics case is soft and perfectly sized.

vs Comparably-priced IEMs I own

I could put the Noble 3U ($350? 3BA) and the 64 Audio U4SE ($400? 4BA) up here but both are no longer made and it’s unlikely anyone will cross-shop them. :slight_smile:

Massdrop Plus ($300 3BA; bought used for $120)

I picked the Massdrop Plus up on the very strong recommendation of my brother. The Massdrop Plus comes with the worst cable I’ve ever used and is nowhere near as well-built as the FDX1. With the release of the FDX1 I’d say there’s no reason to purchase the Massdrop Plus barring a major price drop - the fit on the Massdrop Plus is nice but the FDX1 outperforms it at the same price with a similarly detail-oriented signature and a much better build.

vs Comparably-priced IEMs I’ve heard

Campfire IO ($300 2BA)

The Campfire IO comes with something like $120 in accessories ($30 case, $30 for two sets of tips, $60 cable) and the FDX1 with, I’d say, $70 ($10 case, $20 tips, $50 cable) in accessories. These are WAGs on my part and very subjective - I list them here because both IEMs come ready-to-go with all batteries included whereas some less (and some more!) expensive IEMs come with mediocre accessories. For example, I like the KZ ZSX well enough at $50 but I’m using a $30 replacement cable (stock cable has no chin slider and is not great) and paid $20 for a set of Final Audio Type E (included with all of Campfire’s offerings, I believe) tips.

The IO was something I considered a reasonable first purchase; it’s a certain kind of entry-level for friends that value premiumphile looks over audiophile sound - while it’s not the strongest performer it’s a huge step up from non-audiophile gear. For others, I’d recommend a used Massdrop Plus with the caveat that you’ll want new tips soonish and a new cable immediately.

With the FDX1 you don’t have to make any compromises - except the warranty, Campfire still wins there. :slight_smile:

Overall

Great - not perfect - technical performer that, looking at other reviewers, might be the best option at its price point. Tuning, accessories, and build quality make it an excellent gift, first IEM, or EDC.

6 Likes

Great review @abl. I especially like your bit on the musical differences in the song’s with the said iem. It really helps put it in perspective.

3 Likes

I’m sure many of seen this but Drop is going to release a $500 Dan Clark Audio headphone soon:

Assuming that’s an Aeon collab anyway, as it sure looks like one. :slight_smile:

8 Likes

Looks like the AEON Flow Open…honeycomb grills

5 Likes
7 Likes

Thank you for the review Anthony!

this should get a comeback on Drop or a successor, as it’s one of the few semi-closed backs in a very interesting buget range with a fun and not bloated sound- from what I read
I also like the looks- not screaming at you, however cool…

1 Like

I added my name and a few friends to that contest lol! Who doesn’t want to win free headphones! I was thinking the same thing based on the photo, we will find out in two days! What we should do is comment on that list with our Instagram names and if one of us wins we both win a pair! Mine is www.Instagram.com/mrphotographycom

Great review @antdroid!!

1 Like

Excellent review, Anthony.

1 Like

New from Drop today. https://drop.com/buy/drop-dan-clark-audio-aeon-open-x

2 Likes