This is the most absurdly expensive headphone system I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. I say system because it’s an electrostatic headphone, along with a DAC/Amp unit that’s designed specifically for it.
Here are the measurements - keep in mind we’re still testing out our new reference curve and determining the appropriate slope to use for it. But regardless it’s all backwards compatible with DF so if need be you can calibrate your understanding relative to that.
EDIT: Removing measurements for now since they are apparently not representative. I will update this thread once I get to the bottom of the issue.
I knew that the Aperio had a bit more coloration than the Bravura, and many of us who heard the Bravura and Aperio side by side at various shows seemed to prefer the tonality of the Bravura, however we all acknowledged that the Aperio sounded more technically impressive, and having spent more time with both… that’s exactly how I feel about them.
Now, there are a couple of things to consider here, like how the Aperio has a bump around 1khz and an enhanced mid treble, which show up a lot more meaningfully on the B&K 5128 than on the GRAS. If you look at the treble peak on the 5128, it doesn’t show up anywhere near as strongly on the GRAS.
I think one of two things is likely true. It could be there’s a particular feature of the B&K 5128’s DFHRTF around 8khz that needs to be accounted for (most good headphones measure with a peak there, and similarly most good headphones measure with a dip around 9khz on the GRAS). Alternatively, it could also be that these features are actually there for this particular head and ears, and would be perceptually identified accordingly.
I personally lean to the former, since it doesn’t sound particularly fatiguing up there to me, however DMS found the treble on the Aperio to be a bit too sharp, meaning that for his head and ears it could actually be there. The bottom line is that there needs to be more discussion around HRTF and Headphone to ear transfer function effects, as this demonstrates that difference quite strongly.
There’s also a sense in which the Aperio is ‘Stax-like’ for those same regions. Maybe we could look at that combination of FR features as a potential reason for the enhanced perception of resolution - it has a kind of ‘w-shape’, bringing forward specific nuances in the music.
But when I hear headphones like this, it really demonstrates to me that there’s simply more to the experience than any straightforward reading of the graph will tell you. And I’m saddened that the vast majority of audio enthusiasts will never get an opportunity to have this experience to truly understand that, whether with these headphones or other estats like the Stax L700.
For those who have heard estats like this, you know what I’m talking about. I look at the graph here and think “yeah, you can hear that feature around 1khz”, but what’s missing from that analysis is just how insanely detailed, well-controlled, well-separated, dynamic, and engaging this sounds.
Speaking of the Stax L700, the Aperio is kind of like that just with a less intense tonality and with proper sub-bass. So I do prefer it over the L700, however I’m never going to recommend anyone spend this kind of money on audio equipment. That’s insane to me. Now… if you are insane… and you’re looking for one of the best sounding things on the planet, in particular something that enhances certain nuances in the music, you may as well put the Aperio on that list.
To me the Aperio is more of a statement piece for people to check out at audio shows, and I really do recommend doing that because you’ll learn so much about what’s possible from headphones by hearing it.
Easily Tier 1 for me, and yes, I will EQ it.