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Ifi Zen Dac with Sennheiser HD 25-1, should I upgrade headphones ?

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ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
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I'm going to start off with a statement that might get me shot here, but if you are looking for an AMP/DAC, as well as looking at the features you require, consider it's tested and measured performance. In that regard, the IfiZen Dac could be better. It's worth checking out ASR as a reference in this regard. However, I know right now if you live in the UK we don't currently get bang for our buck when looking internationally (thanks Brexit) so if anything strikes you as a potential investment, do check the shipping and customs import duties before you decide to buy if this is coming from abroad as it may put you off or become unaffordable.

As for the beyer lower ranges being 'bright'. The 770s are more bass heavy, so I wouldn't really call them bright. The 880 80 ohm and 250 ohm are bright in the trebble (the 80s suffer from sibilance too). The 880 600ohms dont suffer either of those issues, but require an earthquake to power them properly. Having not tested the 990s yet i cannot advise on them.

I'm currently experimenting with pad swapping, and I am finding it can completely change the characteristics of a set of headphones. If you have a set of cans you like, and you do your research, this could be an option if you want to switch up your current sound without buying a new pair.
 
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anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
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The Zen Dac is a fine entry level amp/DAC. Not sure what beats it at the price.

770s still have the Beyer treble peak. The 80 ohm is the least bright of the bunch though. The 990s are the brightest of the 3 models to the point of being actually painful and I don't think of myself as very sensitive.

Pads absolutely can change a sound signature. I have Elex pads for my Elear and the difference is huge. The 1990 Pro comes with 2 very different sets of pads. One sharp and precise the other wide and bassy. I've also got Dekoni Elite Hybrids for the 1990 but despite much love from the internet they suck the mids out too much for my tastes. In general though not all headphones do well with pad rolling. Sennheiser and Fostex don't. AKG doesn't.
 

lmlmlm

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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The Ifi Zen Dac (IZD) linked between my laptop and my Sundara's is an improvement (used without the optional power supply at the moment, so just via USB).

The Sundara's are a major, major improvement over my older Sennheiser HD 25 headphones. They're bigger, and external sounds get inside, since they're open-back, so you need perfect silence to really enjoy open-back headphones, otherwise, they sound really great.

My IZD is also linked to some Edifier 1280T desktop speakers, which also benefit from this.

I can't say in numbers how much of an improvement it is with or without the IZD, but all this setup has greatly improved my overall sound quality.

The IZD's Truebass front button is cool, literally kicking up the bass in your headphones or speakers, it feels like putting more sugar on the cake.

I know there are many Dac's out there, from cheap to high-end, which will probably get you the same results or better, the Schiit Modi 3 and Topping D10 or D30 also being very popular.
 

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
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It's actually the Elite Velour not the Hybrid. Either way it sucks the mids out vs the Analytical pads that I like.

Zeos is entertaining but he gets paid to shill products.
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
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Zeos is entertaining but he gets paid to shill products.
He doesn't get paid to review everything, but in the case of this mega test he did get paid by Dekoni to test their pads on a range of headphones. Unlike some reviewers who get paid recommend everything to the high heavens, he didn't recommend everypad for every headset, listed pros and cons for each headset he tested them on, and if something was damned awful or gave no benefit, he was as always rather er....colorful....in that regard :LOL:
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,489
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I'm going to start off with a statement that might get me shot here, but if you are looking for an AMP/DAC, as well as looking at the features you require, consider it's tested and measured performance. In that regard, the IfiZen Dac could be better. It's worth checking out ASR as a reference in this regard.
I won't shoot you, I'm a fairly technical person myself.
I've looked at the ASR site a few times, when it comes to technical testing, ASR seems to have a God-like status to many.
It's certainly reviewed a few products! Interesting, for example, to see a dynamic range league table of so many DACs.
And yes, I saw that ASR gave the Zen DAC a technical slating - completely at odds with the (many) positive sound quality judgements from reviewers and owners alike.
You can see why those people might regard the ASR findings as irrelevant.
Never heard it myself.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,489
930
12,070
Zeos is entertaining
He certainly is to me.
Easy to see how people could hate him, but he's made me laugh out loud several times (I've always found the best comedy comes from America).
Actually, when you listen to what he says, especially some of his (graphical) analogies, he's very insightful.
 

Romulus

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2014
108
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10,620
Yes from reviews I have read and heard there seems a consensus that the DT770 are not suitable for Classical music " just for the bass" as one interview explained. However I can only go on my own experience and so far listening to various Beethoven Symphonies from youtube has been a very pleasurable experience but then I don't know any different since I progressed from Sony £20 headphones. With these new headphones it is as if the sound stage has expanded, resolution, textures have become richer, a lot more refined, when the slam comes in, its controlled, solid and has some warmth, listening to violins has become a new world type experience and when the audience talk I sometimes think my wife has come in and is trying to talk to me as I look around no one there. Even some old Soul or Tamla Mowtown for example 'Trouble Man' by Marvin Gaye wow! I did not realise how well that track is recorded, the headphones pick up the lush sound, the smooth vocals and those individual instruments all contributing to this refined smooth recording. One part of me wonders what an Ifi Zen Dac or even maybe a fiio K5 Pro may bring to the sound itself....
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
103
42
120
I won't shoot you, I'm a fairly technical person myself.
I've looked at the ASR site a few times, when it comes to technical testing, ASR seems to have a God-like status to many.
It's certainly reviewed a few products! Interesting, for example, to see a dynamic range league table of so many DACs.
And yes, I saw that ASR gave the Zen DAC a technical slating - completely at odds with the (many) positive sound quality judgements from reviewers and owners alike.
You can see why those people might regard the ASR findings as irrelevant.
Never heard it myself.
True. I know what you mean. I don't consider them gods, just the only reviewer i know who provide factual metric test result data rather than just objective opinions. It would be nice if someone else also did the same as ASR to act as a comparison.

If you read reviews for example between the latest 'Intel' and 'AMD' processors, as well as objective opinions, the majority will provide factual measurable metric result data based off set tests and criteria and scored and rated based off this.

It would be good to see this in the audio world more, because i believe that would then help to drive further quality improvements in products for the benefit of us all.
 

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
564
314
1,270
Yes from reviews I have read and heard there seems a consensus that the DT770 are not suitable for Classical music " just for the bass" as one interview explained. However I can only go on my own experience and so far listening to various Beethoven Symphonies from youtube has been a very pleasurable experience but then I don't know any different since I progressed from Sony £20 headphones. With these new headphones it is as if the sound stage has expanded, resolution, textures have become richer, a lot more refined, when the slam comes in, its controlled, solid and has some warmth, listening to violins has become a new world type experience and when the audience talk I sometimes think my wife has come in and is trying to talk to me as I look around no one there. Even some old Soul or Tamla Mowtown for example 'Trouble Man' by Marvin Gaye wow! I did not realise how well that track is recorded, the headphones pick up the lush sound, the smooth vocals and those individual instruments all contributing to this refined smooth recording. One part of me wonders what an Ifi Zen Dac or even maybe a fiio K5 Pro may bring to the sound itself....
Like I said it's not a bad headphone at all. It's used quite extensively in studios because of the relatively balanced sound signature and isolation it offers. The BBC 1 live studio uses it. That being said if you think it's good you should try something like an AKG K712 Pro that's not only lush and rich but the layering and staging are just amazing. After 10 years of owning just about every mid-fi headphone those have become my daily drivers. The Sundara the OP of this thread ended up with is also excellent. All that really matters is that you're happy with it. :)
 

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