This is the place to discuss all things Modhouse Tungsten.
- 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:
Check the headphone power calculator here to see if your source will get it loud enough for you.
If you don’t understand what you’re looking at for the following section, watch this video.
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.
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.
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):
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.
The following metrics are usually not perceptually relevant and mainly indicate whether or not the headphones are well-functioning :
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 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.
- 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.