Moon Audio Ambassador Paul Dmitryev
Favorite Genre / Artist: Rock / Nightwish (for now)
Favorite Audio Gear: Lear BD4.2 with Resonessence Labs Concero HP
Lives In: Mykolaiv, Ukraine
Paul Dmitryev, a.k.a @cleg
"My biggest pleasure is to find a new gear, evaluate it and describe it for other people, looking for getting a quality in sound."
Why Paul is an Ambassador
Paul has been reviewing hifi gear for some time now, holding a strong presence in the Russian-speaking audiophile circles.
Recently, Paul has started his progression into a wider audio realm by joining and contributing to Head-Fi and becoming a Moon Audio Ambassador. "I think the good company of other ambassadors will help me to improve and further my high end audio knowledge and further my expertise," Paul Dmitryev.
We Love Paul because...
We are always proud to help support and spread the passion of music and hifi audio. We are thrilled to help Paul continue his discovery of great hifi gear, headphones, music and communities.
I had a dream. A dream of portable, but powerful amplifier, that will be able to drive even power hungry headphones with great authority and confidence. And luckily, I've found such amplifier, moreover, it's a DAC also, and that's $700 CEntrance HiFi M8.
I don't like "sandwiches", made of player and amplifier or DAC, I think there are many good DAPs on the market you can use on the go. So, for me, "portable" amplifier means that I can easily take it with me. In my backpack. And use it with my laptop wherever I stop for work. So, big size and weight of HiFi-M8 doesn't bother me (and it's pretty big).
Big size is necessary for this unique device to deliver it's great power. On high gain it is able to output up to 1.4 watts to 32Ω load (peak value, average is about 1 watt), and that's a lot. It can drive vast majority of headphones, even power-hungry plannars are great with M8. Thanks to 3-positional gain switch, this device can be easily used with sensitive IEM. I've heard some complaints about hiss, but with all my earphones, noise was almost not audible.
Besides gain, you can select output impedance (1Ω, 2Ω and 11Ω) and boost bass/treble a little bit with 3-positional switch on back side.
M8 is very versatile device. You can select 4 possible output optionss (4 pin XLR, dual 3 pins XLR, etc.) and two input options (iOS compatible USB and optical S/PDIF). Also, all M8s have 3.5 mm headphone output and most of them have 6.3 mm socket. My version is for iPhones, as I'm a big Apple fan.
Soundwise, M8 is often called "gain with wire", you just plug headphones, and you'll get them driven at maximum possible level. This amp doesn't ad anything from itself, just your headphones and music. And great driving power. It's hard to describe HiFi-M8s sound, because it doesn't have it's own coloration and accents. It's musical, it have great stage, it can drive almost everything.
That's why this CEntrance amp for me is like a dream come true.
– Paul Dmitryev
Sennheiser HD800 — controversial perfection
There is no other headphones in the world, having so contradictory opinions like Sennhieser HD-800. Sennheiser gathered all their long-term experience and engineereing talents, and created absolute flagship. Their monstrous $1500 price they were able to scare buyers, but what are you getting for this amount of money?
HD 800 sold in huge box, looks like about 30% of headphones price goes to box. Other 10% are used to print big album-like manual. In this box you got HD 800 itself and stock cable. That's all. Nothing extra, but you got everything required to tart enjoying headphones.
As HD 800's impedance is 300Ω, you'll definitely need decent amplifier to drive them, and good DAC is also highly recommended. There are lots of disputes about proper amp selection for those, but I've used what I have: Yulong DA8 and Yulong A28 are a perfect match for them. Also, lot of audiophiles highly recommends third-party cable for HD 800. I didn't try them, but Moon Audio Dragons will definitely improve this headphones both sonically and esthetically.
One of the big advantages of this Sennheisers is their comfort. In this aspect they are really close to perfection: comfortable earpads, soft headband, special construction of cup holders, everything is carefully crafted to create really handy wearing experience. Unfortunately, to reduce weight, Sennheiser used too lot of plastic for $1500 product, but, on the other hand, I didn't hear complaints on HD 800 fragility.
And what about sound? First thing you should know, HD 800 isn't universal headphones. They are perfect in some music styles, like chamber music, vocals, classics, and in other genres, like heavy metal or hard rock, they are barely usable.
Their sound is a little bit on bright side (this could be corrected by cable and/or amplifier) and crafted to create maximum imaginary stage and reproduce smallest details. This brightness isn't due lots of highs, but mainly because of lows reproduction manner.
Bass have perfect resolution, have great texture and absolutely controlled, but for bass-hungry styles it simply can't create enough power. When you need to listen to contrabass, HD 800 is perfect: you hear every single nuance of sound, you can imagine instrument, hear sound of pulling string, wood resonance. But when it comes to rock concert with bass guitar and bass drum, HD800 simply can't reproduce enough energy. Of course, they're trying to do their best, but sometimes it's not enough.
Mids is one of the strongest parts of HD 800, absolutely clear, absolutely transparent, they represent recording it's primal and unmodified form. Special construction of transducers allows headphones to create great soundstage, both in width and in depth and represent smallest nuances. When listening to good chamber records, sometimes you can understand geometry of place, where it was recorded. HD 800 is great for timbre reach instruments, like ukrainian bandore for example.
Highs are also great, their resolution and quantity are tuned perfectly to produce airy and detailed sounding but without any hint of harshness and fatiguing brightness. You can definitely listen to HD800 for hours with ease.
So, to conclude my writings. HD-800 aren't universal, if you need one headphones to use with every music you give them, you should look somewhere else. But if you OK with their weak parts (you don't listen to that noisy metal, or have another pair of headphones for that) and you want headphones for not heavy genres, HD 800 is an absolutely perfect choice. None other headphones can compare with them in stage size and mids representation.
– Paul Dmitryev
Denon is one of the undeniable leaders in the in the region of audio gear. They have their own vision and signature sound, that they are trying to deliver to the customers. D600 headphones aren't exception.
This headphones are carefully balanced in every it's aspect. Package is nice: stylish box, made of high quality cardboard holds headphones itself and accessories. With D600 you'll got: two cables, one for regular listening, second for mobile phones with microphone and talk control buttons, 1/4" adapter, carrying pouch and carbine to attach pouch somewhere.
D600 exterior is nice: rounded shapes looks futuristic, so headphones have their own unique view. Earpads and headband are comfortable and cozy. Stock cable is replaceable, Denon uses standard 1/8" jacks for it, so you can easily upgrade D600 with Moon Audio's Silver Dragon. Weight is somewhat bigger then it could be, so after 2-3 hours of D600 listening, I was forced to make small breaks and give my head some rest.
Headphones are closed back, so they offer better isolation than typical audiophile open headphones, but in very noisy environment it is not enough. But in most common cases, noise isolation is good, so you can even use them on streets.
Sound is fun-tuned to popular V-shaped frequency response. Bass have good body, it slams hardly and goes pretty deep, but sometimes (not too often), I'd prefer better control over it's quantity. Mids are a little bit recessed, not as much, as typical bass-heavy headphones offer, but pretty noticeable. This causes sub-average size of imaginary scene. Nevertheless, mids resolution is still OK. Highs have slight accent, giving you feeling of good detalization and transparency. It is somewhat artificial, but sounds funny.
D600 are preatty easy to drive, so you won't need powerful amplifier, it's a good choice for smartphones, tablets and other "regular" sources.
Initial D600 price war $500, which was too much for them, but now they are sold for about $350, IMHO that's also somewhat above their "level", but if you're looking for fun sounding closed-back headphones for popular music styles, D600 will be a good option.
– Paul Dmitryev