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ASUS Xonar Essence One Muse Edition 24-bit 192KHz USB Interface USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Asus Essence One Muses Edition Impressions 11/27/2013

This review is from: ASUS Xonar Essence One Muse Edition 24-bit 192KHz USB Interface USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

Pros: Pros over AVI DAC / STX DAC: (Also, AVI DAC >>> STX DAC)
Way more articulate, not even close, a night and day difference
Far more spacious, wider, deeper, taller
Far more natural and lively without being bright
Far more rich, detailed as well as lush
Immerses you in the music and makes you want to dance, unlike the other setups which are more analytical but not as good in the above ways.
Imaging is much better
Dynamics are better

Cons: Cons over AVI DAC:
Not as transparent or clean

Other Thoughts: Asus Essence One Muses Edition Impressions

SETUP 1
PC – USB – Asus Essence One Muses – Project Ember – AVI ADM 9RS / Sennheiser HD 650

SETUP 2
PC – SPDIF – AVI ADM 9RS via Internal DAC

SETUP 3
Asus STX – Project Ember – AVI ADM 9RS / Sennheiser HD 650

DAC
The Muses Edition is a huge improvement over the other two setups above.

Pros over AVI DAC / STX DAC: (Also, AVI DAC >>> STX DAC)
Way more articulate, not even close, a night and day difference
Far more spacious, wider, deeper, taller
Far more natural and lively without being bright
Far more rich, detailed as well as lush
Immerses you in the music and makes you want to dance, unlike the other setups which are more analytical but not as good in the above ways.
Imaging is much better
Dynamics are better

Cons over AVI DAC:
Not as transparent or clean

PLEASE NOTE
I prefer the Muses to the AVI dac by a huge shot, not even a comparison, especially for the mids and sound stage and because it actually sounds like music with emotion and depth!

With HD 650:
It feels as if the music is floating around my head rather than just sitting over there.
Imaging and dynamics are better as I said above.
Melting delicious sound presentation
More balanced yet better all around
Above pros as well
No cons over STX DAC

AMP
Not tried much, just for a few seconds. Sounded very good, but not in the same league as the DAC. My Ember sounded slightly better but I haven’t tried the amp much anyway! So can’t really say…

Impressions
It doesn’t sound sterile or dead like the other setups. It sounds like music and real, something which immerses you.

The AVI DAC is very good, but not in the same league as this DAC (though it is more transparent and cleaner).

This DAC sounds rich and lush while being powerful and articulate.

The bass isn’t as prominent as the AVI DAC which isn’t bass heavy either.

I never got the WOW effect, not even when I went from Aktimates to AVI ADM, or from Bravo to Ember, and both above are night and day upgrades. But this upgrade gave me the WOW effect that was I missing all along. Now my setup feels complete and truly end game without any upgrade itch in me. Don’t get me wrong, AVI ADM and HD 650 and Project Ember are all excellent at their price points and work exceptionally, but I was probably missing the Source I needed and this Source brings out the best within all my devices/setup and makes them really sing.

With Muses, HD 650 sounds like a flagship headphone, not as detailed as the HD 800, but definitely truly end game and the sound presentation is to die for!

READ FULL REVIEW
Sennheiser - Around Ear Headphones (HD 650)
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs Sennheiser HD 650 Mini Review 10/20/2013

This review is from: Sennheiser - Around Ear Headphones (HD 650)

Pros: Mid centric
Lush mids
Good bass
Non fatiguing
Very comfortable
Reference class
Can be considered end game for most

Cons: Needs heavy amping to sound right
A little too dark

Other Thoughts: Hi guys.

HD 650 made in 2013.

Brief Impressions of HD 650
It is a dark sounding, smooth, laid back yet high resolution headphone which is engaging enough to listen to hours at a time while being mid centric with a mid bass boost. The deep, tall and engaging soundstage is a good point as well.

The So Called Veil
I didn't find it on the Beta22 at all. On Ember I sometimes feel it, sometimes I don't. It is pretty good with Ember, though perhaps zero veil at all times, though. Not a deal breaker though. However, with a preamp phono with headphone out it did have a veil. So it does need heavy amping. Anything less than $200-500 on the amp and you will probably feel veil, and even then it won't disappear completely.
However, with Project Ember it is enjoyable and very often there is no veil.

Dark Sound
With RCA Black Plates 12AT7 it is darker, so the veil seems more present. With brighter tubes like Telefunken 12AU7 or brighter still RCA Clear Top 12AU7, the veil is less present and the tonal balance is more neutral. On the other hand, it sounded the warmest/darkest with the Beta22 but with no trace of the veil.
I recommend a bright amp with the HD 650 or a ultra high end neutral Amp. So if you choose a tube amp make sure that it uses a bright tube.

Low Volume Listening
Not ideal for low volume listening, especially because of the slight veil and HD 650 nature. However, moderate and loud volumes are very enjoyable. However, when I say moderate, that is probably low for most people. So this isn't a deal breaker for anybody, trust me. You will be fine! :)

Off an Asus STX
Sounds horrible. The RS 180/170 and Pioneer SE A 1000 sound okay, but not their best. However, after listening to it on the Project Ember for a few days, I decided to try the Asus STX amp, and it sounded bad. Not even comparable to the Ember. If you need to use Asus STX then it really sounds like a $50 headphone and you are better off with a HD 598 and Bravo Ocean.

Overall
It is an all rounder headphone though some people may not like it because of its dark nature. However, with the right amping, most people will get used to it. It definitely scales very well with an amp and does need a mid-fi amp as a minimum requirement if you really want it to perform as intended.

READ FULL REVIEW
Sennheiser RS 180 Circumaural Wireless Headphone w/ Transmitter
  • Owned For: less than 1 day

5 out of 5 eggs Sennheiser HD 598 v/s RS 180 v/s RS 170 Mini Review 06/12/2013

This review is from: Sennheiser RS 180 Circumaural Wireless Headphone w/ Transmitter

Pros: As good as wired headphones. Enough said.

The only headphone with the sound signature I love.

Cons: Lack of surround sound and bass boost

Other Thoughts: Sennheiser HD 598 v/s RS 180 v/s RS 170 Mini Review

I went to the Sennheiser office for demo of their headphones.

I preferred RS 180 in this lot because the sound quality was nearly as good as HD 598 but with more thumping bass and very little difference in clearness and clarity, while being wireless. HD 598 was a bit better but not by much.

RS 180 was significantly better than RS 170. RS 180 has more quality and quality of bass compared to RS 170 even with bass boost enabled. The clarity is better with RS 180. It was deeper and more authoritative and with a much deeper and wider soundstage. It wasn't anywhere close to as loud as RS 170 though. And RS 180 didn't leak much sound, not enough to be heard outside the room. HD 598 did leak much more sound though, still not enough to be heard outside a moderately soundproof room.

I proffered the sound signature of the RS 180 the best. The treble of the RS 170 was better than the RS 180 however the mids were best with HD 598, almost as forward and good with RS180 and slightly worse with RS 170.

All three had forward mids. I tried the RS 180 velour pads on RS 170 and the difference between the two was reduced by 30-40%, the RS170 improved a lot by doing just that. And it was also more comfortable.

In retrospect, I would prefer to buy RS 180 over RS 170. The price difference isn't as much as the difference in quality. The difference is not night and day, but certainly noticeable and very significant. Not worth upgrading at full price unless you can sell the previous can for at least 70-80% of the purchase price though.

I recommend the RS 180 over the RS 170 at current pricing. Surround option is decent but just Dolby Headphone isn't bad either. And RS 180 has better bass quantity and quality than RS 170 anyway, partly due to the velour ear pads though. The HD 598 is like marginally better than RS 180 except for thumping bass but then the bass with everything nearly as good makes the RS 180 a clear winner if you can afford it. Especially since it is wireless.

But all this was with the Lehmann amp which costs about 750 pounds. My Asus STX card doesn't power my RS 170 anywhere close. The difference from the Lehmann amp is nearly night and day with it being far livelier, open, with a bigger soundstage and brighter as well. With an STX card you don't get the same effect with a RS 170. It isn't even close.

READ FULL REVIEW

Dinesh T.'s Profile

Display Name: Dinesh T.

Date Joined: 02/05/12

  • Reviews: 5
  • Helpfulness: 1
  • First Review: 05/18/13
  • Last Review: 11/27/13
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