More is (almost) not possible - High End Headphone Battle
Last Monday I was able to visit a customer to try out and compare some of the best headphones in the world with them.
After a few weeks of waiting until we were both fully vaccinated against Covid-19, we could finally start.
The impressive setup consisted of:
- dCS Bartók (Roon Endpoint)
- iPAD & Laptop with Roon Library
- Abyss AB-1266
- Hifiman Susvara
- Focal Utopia
... but coffee first
After we had a cozy chat over a coffee, we started. The Susvara and Utopia were quickly put aside, as they did not meet both of our requirements for the desired sound. Both models are more neutral or flat, while my customer's AB-1266 and the ST Valkyria offer a much more emotional music reproduction.
Of course it's a matter of taste. Therefore this should by no means mean that these are bad headphones! My client and I simply prefer a "more musical, emotional, full-bodied" way of playing.
The AB-1266 and ST Valkyria offer exactly that. And yet they are very different. I guess there are hardly any headphones that can cover the entire music spectrum perfectly. Hence my customer's wish to add another pair of headphones to the AB-1266.
The AB-1266 is perfect for his favorite EDM music: driving bass, clear highs and lots of details. This is what it takes and what the Abyss brings.
For classical music, orchestral soundtracks, jazz and live recordings where perfect voice reproduction is important, something else is needed:
Spirit Torino Valkyria is the first choice here .
After alternating rehearsals (of course, in compliance with all Covid rules of the BAG, including disinfection of the devices used), we were largely in agreement. The following impressions are of course only my own.
- Very "airy" treble reproduction
- Massive bass and sub-bass, can bleed a little into the midrange and cover it
- Excellent detailing with increased height, can sometimes be a bit harsh, a little sibilant
- Slightly subdued and somewhat artificial sounding midrange, especially with voices
- Excellent stage and space
- Lack of coherence: All parts are very good on their own, but they don't "click" into one another
Spirit Torino Valkyria
- Intimate, direct presentation
- The bass is clean, tight, and fast with less sub-bass expansion compared to 1266
- Voices are directed a bit forward, sound more natural and haunting, both female and male
- Excellent coherence
- Guitars and string instruments as well as piano sound sonorous and very natural
- The stage is less big than on 1266, but much more intimate, perfect for live experiences
Both headphones offer something outstanding, are quite different, but complement each other very well. Depending on your taste in music, one or the other will prefer one or the other model.
Being able to test these high-end headphones on such a dream setup was a great experience and an absolute highlight for me. This clearly showed what an impressive music experience is possible with headphones!
The exciting conversations and the exchange with my customer rounded off the experience and made the day unforgettable for me. Fortunately, it will certainly not have been the only one of its kind!
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