The Hobby: There and Back Again

Hello again guys.

I’m back from my new years’ vacation, ready for my new post.

By the way, my Creative Aurvana Live did its job pretty nice this vacation in combination with my Galaxy S. These headphones have a very relaxing and silky sound. I fell asleep with them 3 times.

I still have more of the story to cover before I get to them. Will get to them after season 5. Kiddin’

Ok, getting back to the story.

So I desolated my wallet in a very short time, but I have reached a somehow complete headphone audio system:

  • Sennheiser HD650 + zu mobius one headphone cable
  • Meier Corda Cantate 2 as a headphone amplifier
  • Asus Xonar Essence ST as DAC

But rest assured, something had to happen. Don’t kid yourself folks, Murphy is without doubt out there, watching you :)) . Not necessarily bad things would happen, but funny given the circumstances.

As I have stated in my previous post, I had the gear but not the time or space to listen to it in peace, after moving in with my girlfriend and with some common friends.

In time, I started to learn to enjoy every little time I had to listen to my system.

Considering the fact that my listening at home reduced drastically, I started to feel the absence of music at work.

A light-bulb lighted up in my head.  If i got headphones at work it would resolve a part of my lack of time/space to listen to music problem :D. It wouldn’t be at my hd650+cantate+essence, but nevertheless, I would be listening to music, which is the ultimate point after all, isn’t it?

Well I started looking for a second pair of headphones for office.

Ok…I knew I wouldn’t bother anyone at work if I got open headphones, so one of the most restraining factors were put out of the equation  😀 .

I thought of getting  a pair of headphones that wouldn’t surpass 200$. You know the old story… I ended up spending 500$.

After a lot of research, mostly on headfi, but also talking with Sandu, and reading other reviews, I decided to go with the Grado RS2i , even though it was a little risky.

My birthday was coming :D. Perfect opportunity !

The result is shown in the next pictures:

So, I wished for it:

And well:

I said before that my decision was risky.

Why was it risky? The Grado sound is a little different. As Sandu said “You either love it, or you hate it!”. It was the first grado headphone I would ever listen to. My decision was based only on a lot of reading and others’ opinions, because I did not have the opportunity to listen to it before buying it.

It seems I was lucky, because I ended up loving the sound.

At first I was disappointed. I plugged them into my Meier Cantate 2. The sound was awfull. The bass was practically not there, the sound was so damn bright, I hated it. I tried them directly into the Asus Xonar Essence ST with the same result.

Ah, and I almost forgot. I did one stupid  thing. I let them to break in/burn in, plugged into my cantate 2, at half the volume (pretty high considering the RS2i had only 32 ohms, and the cantate was made for headphones between 300-600 ohms). In less than 5 ours the left driver burned in alright, but not figuratively. I was lucky that they moved very fast at the service. In 2 days I had it back with the driver changed.

I then learned that the break in periods is done at low volume.

Any way, beware, the Grado RS2i seemed to be like a very sensitive headphone.

Ok…What now…? I encouraged myself to be patient, and keep in mind my initial plan, to use them as work cans. I started selecting a bunch of my favorite music tracks and put them on my Samsung Galaxy S. (they, all were loss-less).

When I started to listen to my Grado RS2i from my phone, I was astonished. The sound became warm, the bass was very punchy, the mids were the best I have heard to that date.

I started loving those cans. The bass was not as deep or powerful as the hd650, but it was faster, the soundstage was very very small compared to hd650, it had more details than the sennheisers. The sound was very different, but in a very interesting way. The headphones were a very good complement to each other.

The sound was very intimate, sometimes vocals gave me goosebumps, as I felt the singers singing into my ear. It was like i was feeling their breath and warmth into my ears.

They did not seem so uncomfortable as many headfiers complained. They were not as comfy as hd650, but I did not have problems with them.

Sometimes when I listened to the Grados, i was thinking that I wouldn’t need any better(because of the warm and detailed mids), and that I would stop at them. Well…of course, I didn’t, but the fact that the thought crossed my mind is important.

I started liking them more than my hd650 ( this opinion changed after some months. Stick in to see why ).

I looked up my phone specs. It seems like it has a Wolfson WM8994 DAC, not bad for a phone. It was ranked as one of the best sounding smartphones  on the market. I also found the Voodoo Sound Plus application that boosted the signal and added direct dac functionality (similar to kernel streaming, i think), and improved the sound even more.

I found out that having more headphones can be tricky sometimes.  It took some time to get used to each of them. After I got used to one type of sound, when listening to the other pair of headphones, at first it sounded terrible, but after a while got used to it. I couldn’t swap headphones for each different track, as none of them would have sounded ok.

I think it is enough for one post. The next one will contain the story of one of the most important upgrades I have ever had.

Stay tuned….