Modhouse Tungsten Measurements & Official Discussion

This is the place to discuss all things Modhouse Tungsten.

Official specs:

  • Double-sided
  • Weight: 520g
  • Impedance: 155 ohm average
  • Sensitivity: 78 dB/mW average

Ryan from Modhouse was kind enough to send us the double-sided driver version to review. Here’s the video review:

Source Recommendations

Here are some recommendations from @GoldenSound at different price points.

Check the headphone power calculator here to see if your source will get it loud enough for you.

Measurements

If you don’t understand what you’re looking at for the following section, watch this video.

B&K 5128

There are two pad options for the headphone, the default for the double sided version are the perforated pads but you can also option for the hybrid pads. Personally I prefer the hybrid pads but you’ll be able to see below how each of them performs.

Raw - Hybrid Pads

Calibrated - Hybrid Pads

On the B&K 5128 head, with the Hybrid pads, the Tungsten could be described as warm yet balanced across the spectrum. It has the appropriate bass to treble delta that will be enjoyable to most people, just with an extra emphasis towards the lower mids that imparts an extra lush and rich kind of character to the sound.

What I especially like about the hybrid pads is that they add a bit of warmth while also keeping the HRTF shape reasonably intact, this way instrument timbre or ‘tone color’ as Thiele called it is still likely to be well-received.

One notable feature is that there’s a bit of a peak around 9khz, however perceptually I hear this closer to 8.5khz. This is also near the canal entrance resonance where many headphones show a peak due to constructive interference (similar to the 9khz dip on the GRAS). Audibility of this feature will likely depend on the individual.

I should also note that this resonance is caused by the grilles. Take the grilles off and it goes away (result posted below). However I do not recommend taking the grilles off of planar magnetic headphones in general since any small bits of metal nearby like screws can get magnetized and rip through the driver (having worked with planar drivers in the past, this is extremely easy to have happen).

Raw - Perforated Pads (looser clamp)

The perforated pads slightly increase the distance between the lower mids and ear gain above 2khz, making it a bit more ‘neutral’ overall, but they also have the effect of emphasizing the 8.5khz peak ever so slightly.

I had to loosen the clamp on the headband to fit my larger than average head and that also seemed to change the pad volume due to it having less pad compression on the rig, so there are stronger contours towards the upper mids at 2khz with a looser clamp.

Increasing the clamp pressure yielded in my view a better response on the rig, however this is again going to be different for every person and every head shape.

Calibrated - Perforated Pads (clamp comparison)

Here you can see the notable difference in response for different clamp pressure, and of course on my head the clamp is going to be on the tighter side, perceptually being closer to blue here.

The Hybrid pads didn’t seem to change with different clamp pressure.

GRAS

For GRAS data, we’re still working on the DFHRTF for the KB5000 pinna, so in the meantime I’m going to show it relative to Harman OE 2018, which is still a good indication of how the headphone fares relative to the largest preference segment.

Raw

EQ
This is by no means an EQ required headphone, it sounds fantastic even without EQ, and I’d say with a grille mod this is a headphone I’d be very happy to use without any EQ.

But as always every headphone can be improved with some adjustments. In general I prefer it with the Hybrid pads, as I enjoy that lush presentation to the mids.

Here’s what I ended up doing (with hybrid pads):
image

As you can see, very subtle adjustments, and the reduction at 8.5khz is really more just to my personal HRTF than how I expect it’ll be for others, so do all of the treble by ear. You could of course also add a bass or treble shelf depending on the type of listener you are.

Here’s the result - I didn’t go too far on the 8.5khz adjustment since this is bound to be different for each person.



:point_right: :point_right: :point_right:The following metrics are usually not perceptually relevant and mainly indicate whether or not the headphones are well-functioning :point_left: :point_left: :point_left::

Harmonic Distortion (105dB @ 1khz)

Harmonic Distortion (96dB @ 1khz)

Harmonic distortion is kept in check at very loud volumes and even then you only see an increase in low order products. Even at this volume level it’s all well within the auditory masking window and inaudible. There does seem to be a hard limit around 116dB but anyone listening loud enough for tones to token that level will go deaf rather quickly, so it’s nothing to worry about.

If you do want to do EQ, this is a reasonably good candidate for it. I’m not going to say it’s as good as some Audeze offerings but provided you don’t go totally crazy with various boosts it’ll handle adjustment just fine.

Driver damping & resonance frequency (Fs)

Blue = with grille on, the others with grille off

Notable bass boost with an air gap and a low resonance frequency. This is more similar to the HiFiMAN headphones and less like many Audeze or DCA planars. If you wear glasses with thick arms, you can expect there to be a subtle bass boost rather than a bass dropout.

Here you can see both the effects of removing the grille, and what happens when there’s an air gap (and a partial gap in orange). I did not find that removing the grille changed the Q of the driver resonance frequency all that much - maybe a bit.

I expect there is some slight air damping from the grille but not to the degree of the HE-6, where the Fs Q is higher when you remove the grille on that one. With the Tungsten, while there is some difference with an air gap, with the grille on the main feature is a bit more energy around 8-10khz and for most people that’s bound to be more relevant.

Excess Group Delay


Nothing meaningful to note.

Impedance

Impedance is quite high for a planar. Make no mistake this is a difficult headphone to drive, you need a lot of gain to get it loud enough. Maybe we’ll put together a list of amplifiers that would be suitable, in my case I’m using the Vioelectric HPA V550 MK2 on the highest gain setting, but I also expect there will be other less expensive options that’ll work.

Notes:

  • Comfort is acceptable, I did have to bend the top headband out a bit to get it to fit well but once I did it was reasonable - except I did find a bit of extra pressure just above my temples. Keep in mind, it is on the heavier side in general, weighing just over 500g with the cable attached. Compared to other doube-sided planars though, this is actually lighter than much of the competition.
  • Build quality feels very much hand made - but in a way that I think some may enjoy. Personally I think the next step for Ryan and Co. is to make some refinements to the materials and comfort, maybe with a more padded suspension strap option could be doable.
  • Aesthetically it looks nice. I love the matte black everything, this is my kind of vibe, however I believe there are different options for grille colors - someone needs to get him to make it with white grilles for a nice stormtrooper look. There’s actually wood on the inside of the grille, so it also has a woody aroma to it.
  • The cable from Viking Weave Cables is insane. This is easily the nicest looking and feeling cable I’ve ever come across, which is kind of in contrast to the more… utilitarian feel of the headphone’s materials.
  • Requires an amplifier - I can’t state this strongly enough, this is a rare ultra low sensitivity and high impedance planar.
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Thanks, very interesting. I’m surprised you don’t find them bright, or at least, warm-bright. I would expect the slightly more subdued upper mids would lead to a greater contrast and thus increased perception of that mid-treble peak.

Also, curious to see that grille-less performance. I wonder if a different grille shape would help get rid of the resonance while still protecting the drivers.

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I hope your video review includes a section comparing the Tungsten to the Hifiman HE6se V2 since they are similar.

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I have ordered the DS Version of this but very curious to know how the SS version compares as I really wanted to know out of the two which one has the biggest dynamics or punch/slam as this is what I look for the most in hp.

Shortly after I ordered the DS version someone told me the SS version punches harder and I felt gutted :rofl:

@Resolve You and the headphone youtube channel have inspired me in the last few years and now I am the proud owner of many HP and Gear and really in to the EQ side of things.
But I would say I still consider myself a noob specially wen it comes to EQ side of things but slowly getting there.
There is many questions I would love you to answer for me.
Here is one question:

  • How much db boost can a headphone take before it creates a problem in the sound?
    I know every headphone varies like LCD-5 can take more EQ than say a Susvara but I am not sure how much more.
    For example if I give both the LCD-5 and Susvara a +8db shelf boost via Roon they both sound good with no bad effect.(Also adding -8 gain).

How much can a Susvara take before it detrimental to the sound quality?

Sorry for the long borring question.

Peace :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Ah that stinks. The SS is harder to drive tho, right?

Thanks @Resolve … interesting… so how do these compare to the Susvara…

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Their website mentions this one (double-sided)as neutral with the single-sided variant as a little v-shaped.
Relative to the measurements you took, where would you expect the v-shaped differences most likely to be? Probably not more bass eh? So maybe a less “lush” midrange leading up to 1k? Or a deeper dip around 1-2k? Or both? Thanks.

It all depends on the headphone’s harmonic distortion and excursion limits. So for many Audeze headphones you can go way farther than you can with most HiFiMAN headphones for example, but in both cases you’ll be fine with meaningful boosts.

Like technically the HiFiMAN ones will result in audible harmonic distortion products earlier, but at that point it’s like what is the person even trying to do with the headphone.

With Focal headphones, by contrast, they can’t take nearly the bass boost that planars can, not specifically because of elevated low order harmonic distortion products, but rather a hard excursion limit around 107dB @ 1khz. Basically if you try to add a bass boost or run them with higher output impedance sources, you’ll have less volume headroom before they clip.

So it really all depends on the headphone.

Described in another way, single dynamic drivers (Focal, Sennheiser) involve moving one big thing back and forth and a harmonic balancing act. Push too much here and they must also change there. Sometimes desirable sounds increase while unwanted characteristics go away. IMO this is mostly what people describe when they speak of ‘scaling’ and ‘synergy’ – after getting enough current the game shifts to getting the harmonic delivery right.

I don’t hear the harmonic balance linkage with planar headphones. Each frequency band seems more independent in the overall delivery. They can be great in their own way.

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Ehh I tend to think the synergy thing is primarily related to impedance relationships - at least provided things are driven sufficiently. With regards to harmonic delivery, if we’re talking low order distortion products, this stuff tends to be way below the threshold of audibility - although I will say that there hasn’t been that much research that’s gone into that. But we’re talking about less than 1% here… so I’m skeptical that stuff is going to be audible.

But for impedance relationships, that’s where you’ll get more tangible change, especially in situations with nonlinear impedances - like the Focals for example. I’m actually kind of interested to see what happens with the Tungsten from higher OI. It’s got a mostly flat impedance curve, but at the same time it does sort of… tilt a bit. I wonder if there’s some synergy that could meaningfully affect the FR as a result of that. Still, EQ is way more effective, so people should just do that IMO.

I curious how the Tungsten will sound ran off my A&S Mogwai SE from the 8ohm out and the 32ohm out. Should be powerful enough.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: The Objective, Subjective & Dejected Thread

That response with the hybrid pads seem ideal for my preferences, since the rise up to 3kHz is not too much and I happen to prefer that over something rising higher like the HD600. Been thinking about getting something even more technically capable than the old HE-500 for a while, I think it’s between this or the Caldera for me. Looking forward to the video review!

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Of the many Cerakote H-series coatings which can be chosen for each of the grills, cups, yokes, rod blocks, and headband of the Tungsten, there is a Stormtrooper White.

There are approximately seventy unique combinations of colours for each living human, though Ryan may have to work late to deliver them all in a timely fashion.

The question I have yet to see adequately answered about this headphone and its grille, which casts everything else about it into doubt, is why the element tungsten has symbol “W”, yet the grills appear to have a struck out “M”, i.e. M, suspiciously similar to the one on the Monolith M1060. The fact that it’s made of aluminum and not tungsten only makes this more suspicious.

[Images created with Playground-v2]

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Assuming this is not tongue-in-cheek … the emblem is an “M” and “H” overlayed. It’s not much of a mystery … being a Mod House product.

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Curious from those who have listened to the Tungsten and Diana MR, how does the bass compare between the two of them? Also in general what are the sound signature differences.

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Tongue very firmly in cheek with the intent to take a conspiratorial tone.
I’m not saying the Tungsten is M1060 or M1060C with a replacement grill and headband, but…

@orrman has heard them both. He might be able to assist.

I’ve ordered the DS version but i’m definitely concerned about driving it. Would love to hear of any amps under $1k that can provide enough headroom

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Topping A70 is well under $1k.

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