What are you upgrading?


Thanks for support. It helps me to go a little further in getting braver to build something soon. Sounds like it could be a lot of fun.


I know @Torq is going to be building one soon, he mentioned possibly doing a build with pictures (but don’t take my word for it). Once I got going with the soldering it was actually pretty easy going, and for whatever reason I picked up the understanding of what to do quickly. I think the biggest tip I read/watched was to not touch the solder to the iron directly but to heat the area/solder point then melt the solder to that(while avoiding any plastic or things that can be damaged by the soldering iron).


Sounds cool maybe @torq doing a presentation with pictures. No doubt the man has much talent and experience.

Also, thanks for your tip on soldering.


I find I’m able to solder my own stuff just fine. I’m only nervous if it’s someone else’s.


It doesn’t involve instruments, but we enjoyed this program a lot. Your child is old enough for it already.



Yes, I will be putting my Bottlehead Crack 1.1 together in the not very distant future. And in doing so I will document the build.

Given the thoroughness of the included build-instructions (and illustrations) my documentation may well take the form of a series of crucial pictures and a time-lapse video of the build - I’m not sure yet.

And once built I’ll review it. Both stock and then after building and installing the “Speedball” constant current source PSU modification.


Excellent News Thanks


Thank you for this! I will be loading it up over the next week with her!
Edit: isn’t available near me :(:cry:


Soldering isn’t as scary as you may think! I have really unsteady, shaky hands (Playing the Operation board game never really works out for me) but if I take my time, soldering isn’t too terrible. Just watch some instruction videos on YouTube and start out by building a CMoy or an Objective2


On top of owning Stax Lambda Pros since 1990 I also own or have owned Sennheiser HD-580, Sennheiser HD-600, Sennheiser Momentums, the aforementioned Focal Clears, Grado SR-60s, Sennheiser HD-280 Pros, Sennheiser PX-100s, Stax SR-40 Electric Condernser, Koss Porta Pros and a few others that I cannot recall all these years later.

I respect and see why people like the HD-580, 600 and 650 cans. The laid back and restricted sound they project is something I could not get past. I tried hard to like them but I kept waiting for the sound to work itself loose from these cans. These cans are capable of very good sound but they do not lend themselves to all types of music.

After lot of experimenting I sold my HD-600s and stuffed the HD-580s away. They did many things great but I could not get them to sound open and free.

I never got past the sound of the Stax electret condenser headphones either. They were too colored sounding to make it as decent headphones in my opinion. I used those until I could afford better headsets.

The Sennheiser HD-280 Pros were the price/performance champs that I used a long time at one of my office jobs. They are not great but neither do they sound restricted and withheld like the HD-600’s did. I recommended these headphones many times and every person who bought them thanked me. Sennheiser has a decent headphone with the 280s but they are not a great.

The Grado SR-60s are very good inexpensive cans but you may end up not liking a headset with so many faults. They cannot be a great headphone at their price point but they can deliver decent sound for a very reasonable amount of money.

The original Sennheiser Momentum has a bit of the veiled sound that the HD-600 suffers from. I found myself turning up the volume to try and compensate for the veil over the music. Of course that did’t work but the Momentums are capable of good quality sound across much of the sound spectrum except for the frequency extremes.

I gave my Momentums to my youngest son to use with his gaming system. He is very happy with the best headphone he has ever owned.

The rest of the headphones I mentioned stayed with me briefly due to their faults. The Sennheiser PX-100 was a decent portable headphone. The ability to carry a folding set of cans is a nice thing when you travel a lot and my PX-100 got a lot of frequent flyer miles on them.

The Koss Porta Pros were owned too long ago to talk much about their sound character. I never gained a respect for Koss headphones and viewed them as cheap headsets that you buy at Walmart. They worked well and they didn’t make music sound abrasive. They didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves but they were inexpensive and they worked better than many cheap earbuds found with portable equipment.

The Focal Clears are a set of headphones that are hard to not like. They do not do anything to stand out or call attention to themselves. They are extremely neutral and capable of clean well defined bass, midrange that neither stands out nor does it get hidden under other parts of the performance. The treble is well defined and resolves instruments in a very lifelike character. The treble is clear and never abrasive.

The problem with the Focal Clears is that they do nothing wrong, neither do they standout anywhere. The Clears just respond to your amp and make the performance sound as good as the recording. I guess you could call them great dynamic headphones because they do what I said. They make the music sound like the recording.

Its not a headphone for people who want to examine the performance because there are other products that are better at expressing all details in the music. The Clears just make the music, instruments and vocals sound contiguous.

To be honest I didn’t know if I liked them following the breakin period. I kept expecting for some sort of change where the headphones would start sounding “better”. Better in this case was my expectation of a transducer that shows off details in the music. The Clears were doing the music more justice than I realized.

My Stax Lambda Pros are capable of resolving everything in the grooves of my LP collection. They are astonishing in their ability to dig into a performance and let you hear everything in the music. The Focal Clears are reproducing the details but not in the same clear cut, extremely defined manner as the Stax headsets.

The Lambda Pros are very well balanced and one of the best headphones I have ever heard. I know that the SR-009 have the edge in performance but the Lambda Pros are still held in some recording studios so the engineers can examine their recordings. They were one of the best that Stax ever produced and I was lucky enough to own them.

In 1990 they cost $1200 and that was serious money for headphones. The SR-009s today eclipse that kind of MSRP but the best is never cheap. The Clear from Focal is a product without any serious faults. The most expensive dynamic or planar magnetic headphones all have some strengths and their weaknesses.

The Clears are that strange product that does everything very well. They are missing that ultimate resolution that you get from estats. For $1500 you couldn’t ask for more…at least in my opinion.

I expect to upgrade my Stax equipment by next March. I will either give myself a nice Christmas gift or I will wait until my tax refund gives me a bit of expendable funds. Estat headphones are not perfect but they can be perfect in the small space around your head. Thats all I need.



If I could upgrade my Sennheiser HD 660 S with Sennheiser HD820 then it will something best for me. :neutral_face:


I too wish I could play a musical instrument. I would love to be able to play a guitar. I am going to motivate myself to get started and see how it goes. My son had a starter pack with guitar and books to aid learning but he lacked motivation and preferred his Xbox one and playing Fortnite for god knows how many hours, to the detriment to everything else in his life. Ok rant over. :slightly_smiling_face:.

Knowing a little about the technicalities of music must surely help whilst listening critically whilst comparing gear.



I just upgraded my DT770s to a pair of ZMF Eikons. Next, I’ll upgrade my HD650s to HD800 and after that I’ll probably finally upgrade my sound card and Bravo Audio V2 to an RME ADI-2 DAC.


Some people like me just have no musical talent. I played a trombone in band for 6 years. I could read the music and make that sound but I could not play anything without sheet music. A few years ago, I pick up a mountain dulcimer and tried to learn to play it. Again I could read music and make the sounds but could just take what was in my head and play it. My son can pick up his guitar and play music. My grand father was a classical violinist. I did not get the talent. Good Luck. It will not take you long to tell if you have any talent.


Thanks, I will probably fall into the talentless group. I just want to try to understand the nuances of music a little more. I am presently using the soundgym website in order to get a better ear for music.



Is there a “downside” to upgrading. When do all of you say,“This is IT.” Can upgrading resulting in too much confusion. Is there a “happy medium entry point?” Where does it end? Does it ever end. Is the end going to live concerts?


Well, it’ll generally make your wallet lighter/bank account smaller.

I haven’t yet … but at the same time I do not spend much time actively looking for “upgrades”.

I’m sure there is. I’m equally sure it’s going to be very different for everyone.

If it was practical to listen to all of the music I wanted to, when I wanted to, in a high-quality live-performance environment, that’d be great.

However, that’d mean not listening to the vast majority of the music I’ve enjoyed at all, let alone on demand. Notwithstanding that the majority of concerts I’ve been to have had absolutely appalling sound quality. The magic is in the atmosphere, not the delivery.

This is less of an issue with orchestral works, or in small jazz clubs, but the moment there is amplification and speakers involved (beyond that necessary for instruments like synthesizers and electric guitars), it’s all too common that it is played loud to the point of gross distortion and any semblance of “fidelity” is lost.


@I_want_all_the_tacos has a very nice perspective on this. I’m oversimplifying, but basically there’s two reasons to explore headphones and related equipment. 1) You just want something that’ll let you enjoy music (or games, or whatever is your thing) or 2) You enjoy the hobby itself, meaning trying out new headphones, comparing equipment, training yourself to be a better listener, and so on. If you’re in camp 1), I think this can and should end fairly quickly and IMHO at a mid-fi Sennheiser. If you’re in camp 2), there’s really no reason to wish for it to end as it’s the journey itself that’s the fun.


since i joined this new,revamped “Headphone Community” I am finding that I listen to music through headphones when I REALLY want to listen to the music. Sometimes,when I listen through speakers,my mind wanders and the music becomes “background” noise. So I am starting to differentiate between listening through speakers and listening though headphones.


This is so true. Regrettably, I find that even small venues will often over-amplify, boost the bass and just generally mess up the sound, not to mention that most venues around me were built as bars, not as quality acoustic spaces. Now, hearing a great choir perform in a church or listening to a band play in the Moody Theater is a whole 'nother thing.

I find it conducive to my mental health not to think of it as upgrading because after a certain point (again I’ll suggest midfi Sennheiser) it seems to me that things tend to just be different rather than unqualifiedly better.

I think of car collecting as a good analogy. Assuming that you care about comfort, speed, cornering, cargo capacity, offroad capability and a number of other factors, you’ll never find a single vehicle that’s better in all of these aspects than every other vehicle. Hence, if you’re a car nut, you might end up with a Mercedes sedan, a Porsche convertible and a Jeep in your garage. None of these is really an upgrade from any of the others, they all just fill a particular niche in a collection.

I think one place where the car analogy breaks down is that one might see the purpose of HIFI headphones as being the accurate reproduction of recorded sound. Assuming that the recorded sound itself is pleasing, headphones that accurately reproduce that sound, work well with your particular anatomy and are comfortable to wear will be pleasing as well and could be considered something like “end-game”, or at least “good enough that you don’t need to keep trying to upgrade”. This is, once again, where I’ll point to the mid-fi Sennheisers, which in the car-world would be something like a Honda Accord.