After receiving helpful feedback about our Moon Audio Reviewer contest we wanted to share a note about the road ahead and clarify some questions.
One question was about everyone winning. We appreciate how hard everyone worked to "get out the vote" and want to clarify that not every finalist won. Our friend and Ambassador Martin Smith, someone with an extensive social following, didn't "win" an official reviewer designation much to his consternation.
Marty was disappointed since the review contest was his idea, but he continues to write reviews and contribute and promises to do a better job of getting out the vote next time.
We appreciate everyone's hard work and look forward to their contributions. Contests are great and we hope everyone had fun, but we are looking for an elite group of contributors contributors willing to go the extra mile for Moon-Audio.com.
We don't know who those "elite contributors" will be...yet.
Once we discover our "elite group" we will share ideas we are working on such as crowdfunding new audio gear, an unboxing app and a way for customers to easily create a Moon-Audio.com store of their own. Official "reviewers" will be the first to see, experience and comment on these and other new ideas.
Our "elite" Ambassadors won't be identified from a single contest. Our most valuable Moon-Audio.com Ambassadors will make important contributions over time and be rewarded with "insider" access (to equipment and new business ideas).
We hope Moon Audio Ambassadors will contribute reviews of gear they have, have heard or want. Ambassadors should feel free to discuss music they love, concerts they've attended or anything even remotely music related too. Gear is what we sell and create. Music is what we love and why we do what we do.
Now that voting is over and a handful of Ambassadors have been asked to make contributions directly into the Moon-Audio.com bog we can't wait to see what they contribute, write, think and feel.
Thanks again to all who wrote great reviews and got out the vote in our first Moon-Audio.com Reviewer Contest. If you missed the contest don't worry.
Moon Audio is always looking for great contributors who love music. If you missed the contest, but would like to be considered as an "elite contributor" write some reviews or email a blog post proposal to [email protected].
Thanks and we look forward to the road ahead because it is filled with great Ambassadors, astonishing contributions, cool new gear and great music.
Meet the Ambassadors
Favorite Genre / Artist: Rock / Nightwish (for now)
Favorite Audio Gear: Lear BD4.2 with Resonessence Labs Concero HP
Lives In: Mykolaiv, Ukraine
Favorite Genre / Artist: Grunge / Ska / Punk Rock
Favorite Audio Gear: Chord Hugo, Fostex TH900
Lives In: Oklahoma City, OK - USA
Favorite Genre / Artist: Rock / Pop / Foo Fighters / Red Hot Chili Peppers / Muse / The Killers / Nirvana / Audioslave / Sara Bareilles /Lady Gaga / Kimbra
Favorite Audio Gear: DT 1350 w/ Blue Dragon cable
Lives In: Southern California - USA
Favorite Genre / Artist: Sixties(19651975) Psychedelic / Rock / Blues / Progressive / Reggae / Folk / Jazz / PostRock / Progressive / Ambient / Electronic / Dubstep / Art-Rock
Favorite Audio Gear: HE60 (BabyOrpheus)+KGSS AKG K-1000, Stax SR-007 OmegaII Mk1, Joe Grado HF-1/HF-2(HP-1000), SAC KH-1000
Lives In: Alcona, Ontario, Canada
The Old Mad Dog
Favorite Genre / Artist: Rock / Pop / Grateful Dead / Rod Stewart / Frank Sinatra / Joe Cocker / The Rolling Stones / The Doors
Favorite Audio Gear: Fostex TH900 hardwired with the Silver Dragon V3 headphone cable, Chord Hugo
Lives In: Colorado - USA
Favorite Genre / Artist: Hard Rock, Country, Classical
Favorite Genre / Artist: Jazz, classical and rock / Billy Idol, Norah Jones, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan
Favorite Audio Gear: Sennheiser HD 800 Astell & Kern AK240
Lives In: Vienna, Virgina - USA
Check out these great reviews:
I travel for work. I have a big house. I can't be in only one room to enjoy music, Im upstairs, downstairs, in the office, doing laundry (HATED IT, but not any more), in my old lounge chair in the TV-room. I felt that I couldn't just live with a DAP. It would never have everything I wanted. I needed something to be used with multiple portable sources but also my CD/SACD player. I guess you can see where this is going
But before we deep dive into the review, let me repeat my basic path to achieve sonic bliss. I mentioned it in my last review of the Black Dragon for the Sennheiser HD800. It's been developed as a framework to lean on when auditioning equipment. I find it useful to have some rules to follow. Remember that these work for me, they may not work for you. Now that's only the basic path.
If all boxes are checked it gets easier for me to answer the big question: is this better than what I already have?
1. Portability. But still the greatest sound quality possible. This is very important to me. I need to be able to move around the house and spend time listening in different rooms, sofas, chairs. And I need to bring my system to the office. The only stationary equipment I have is a CD/SACD-player and I use it during office-hours for days spent working at home.
2. Versatility. I don't want to be feel that I can't try new equipment because they can't be connected to each other. (Chord Hugo is perfect for my needs. It has multiple inputs that will not stand in the way of using multiple sources. The lack of balanced inputs is a flaw, but will not stand in the way of auditioning new equipment.)
3. Transparency. To come as close to the original recording as possible is a true goal of mine. To keep that in mind helps me differentiate between what type of equipment I like and don't like.
4. Mastering. I'll always try to get the best existing on of every album I'm buying. Some albums are just very badly recorded/mixed/mastered. I'ts good to know, and I try to accept it. For me buying new headphones for certain types of music will only get you half way. Also, I like the treasure hunt. This checkbox is always checked since I now feel I have a broad collection of music from all genres.
5. Trust your ears, not the price tag. That means a lot of work, and a lot of hours spent on critical listening. The improvements are never for free and it's getting more expensive for each step, but I try not to care too much about the price tag, but to whether I can live without the improvement or not.
6. Accept the passion. I've got a huge passion for music and HIFI equipment. That means always chasing improvements. I've embraced and accepted that fact. Knowing and accepting this has helped me tremendously. I'm not ashamed one bit, and I don't hide it. My wife calls me crazy, OCD, addict and a whole bunch of other words. I always smile, kiss her on the forehead and say: I know, I agree but I love it.
Ok, you've taken the time to read through the craziness above, thank you. Now where were we? Right, I was looking for a device that would be the center around which I could build a sonic heaven. Now, the more good you hear about a product, the harder it will get to trust your ears. But remember, you have one mouth and two ears. To listen, and really listen, is the key to finding the equipment I like. I've added 5 more rules for me to follow, which you read about above.
Of course this will be all about the Chord Hugo, but you knew that. I read so many great reviews and followed the thread at Head-Fi and I couldn't imagine a world where such an expensive portable DAC-AMP combo could sound bad. But I've been down that road before so I made sure I got it with a 30-day free return. One short listen wouldn't be enough and the one thing I did was make sure I had a long list of music. And when I say a long list, I mean a LONG list. I went through around 50 albums all in all before I felt safe to say that this is probably one of the best portable DAC/AMPs in the world.
I'm not going to speak about all the technical mumbo-jumbo. Sure, I like reading specs but I much more enjoy reading Michael Cuscunas notes for Milt Jacksons only session for Blue Note as a leader. So, you can just click this link: https://chordelectronics.co.uk/products-info.asp?id=92 and indulge in inputs/outputs or whatever you want to know from a technical perspecive. Chord Hugo has inputs enough to check the second rule of "basic path to achieve sonic blis. It lacks an analogue input, but there is not many sources on the market that I'm interested in that will leave you with that option only, so I'm good.
Portability? Well, I'd say that Chord Hugo will check the box for the portability that I am looking for, namely to move around to different places in the house. It'll allow me to set up an audiophile listening station wherever I want to. I love it! Battery time is more than enough to cover. I rarely sit for more than 3 hours anyway.
What about transparency? It takes quite a lot of listening to get a true answer in my opinion. Some equipment will completely alter the way you look at transparency. Chord Hugo is such a device. I needed a big variety of albums, and I needed to go back and forth with other devices to find the answer. For me, Chord Hugo is truly transparent. I dont't agree with the fact that it sounds like a tube amp or close to vinyl; breath-of-life type of sound. To me it's truly transparent end of story. Check.
Mastering; not an issue. Check. Chord Hugo sounds fantastic with all kinds of music.
Trust your ears not the price tag. What about the sound?? Oh my. Chord Hugo can handle whatever music you throw at it, and it will be a good match for any type of headphone. It drives Sennheiser HD800 perfectly so I can't see the need for any other amp. Furthermore I feel that adding an external amp will alter the sound of Hugo and I don't want that. I want it to sound exactly like it does. Chord Hugo has a bold and transparent soundstage. It's meaty with meaty music, it's crispy with crispy music. See what I mean? Transparency! This is how Chord Hugo sound, together with HD800 with My EARS: As the artist wanted it to sound. I mean mastering engineers, mixing engineers and producers will to their thing, but this is the feeling I get from Hugo. It makes me happy to know that I'm very close to the original recording session.
Accept the passion. Chord Hugo made me stop for a while. I almost became a bit sad. What to look for now? But it's all coming back after a while of course. Sources, cables, headphones
Well on the DAC/AMP side I'm happy for now. There's nothing on the market that can check the boxes like the Hugo's in any price range. If there is, please let me know.
These are by far my favorite piece of audio gear I've every personally listened to, for they fit everything I look for in a monitor and leaves no cravings for more rather the fulfillment of satisfaction. I am referring to the highly regarded Shure SE846. The first thing I noticed upon glancing at the box was how the drivers are independently tuned to attain exactly the specified range the engineers are wanting which corresponds directly in the amount of crossover you receive which is seemingly absolutely none. These are also the most detailed monitors I've ever heard, leaving no detail unmentioned, then the soundstage, oh my goodness the soundstage. I didn't think it was even possible to possess one this massive in a monitor especially in a product that's just the entry point into the elite class of headphones. I love, truly love these monitors for I get chills when I talk about them let alone when I have them in my ears letting them drift me away to the performance I choose.
On more of an objective side (even more than the previous paragraph), these are also the most all-rounded headphone I know of. First they're sweat-proof so feel free to have a super hard workout in them, looks like it's about to rain don't worry about it, these won't even flinch. For those who like to listen when they go to sleep these are completely flush with most ears so feel free to lay on your side all while being completely undisturbed from ear pressure, and on that not those bikers who are annoyed for not being able to listen to music fret not they fit again flush against most ears so no worries about the helmet rubbing or breaking it.
I can't stop praising these for nothing I've heard to date gives me more fulfillment on a portable setup for these really go the extra mile and adds different filters so one may tune them to fit their desired sound. Me personally, usually have the bright filter on which is a perfect complement to the true sub-woofer these have, but when I'm wanting accuracy I equip the neutral (reference) filter and relish in the rich unbridled detail. Then for the bass heads the dark filter will give you enough bass to rattle your teeth.
In closing, I recommend these to absolutely everyone. They have an amazingly durable build quality that (I've proven) can take workouts, drops, tugs, RAIN and if ever you do somehow manage to break the cable, they're detachable. For being one of the oldest audio companies around, and American, these have never left me disappointed.
Read More Reviews
HE-560 - The Headphone of Choice
How many times have you rifled through your collection of headphones looking for just the right sound signature for that new lossless track just recently downloaded from Pandora? The choices seem endless and you hope that you don't spoil your listening experience with too many unsatisfactory listening tests and too much time expended. Wouldn't it be nice to simply pick up one pair of headphones (I always wondered why a singular set is referred to as a pair's but that's another topic). Well, the not so recently released HIFIMAN HE-560 nicely fits the bill.
First off, the 30% lighter weight (when compared to similar planar magnetic headphones) due to the utilization of single-sided magnets and the improved comfort from the velour pads, and the nominal clamping force, make these headphones one of the most comfortable, as corroborated by many hours of relentless listening sessions.
The improved efficiency of the drivers makes them far less power hungry as compared to HIFIMAN's flagship the HE-6, although they do benefit from a moderately powerful amplifier to really make them shine. They have a smooth, open and extended sound signature with well extended, textured mids and detailed treble which results in airy yet natural vocals. Pace, rhythm and speed was good on all points with the HE-560. A spacious soundstage and very good instrument separation provides good impact and the bass goes deep and hits with a strong punch. Considering the very clear midrange, somewhat sparkly treble and fast, tight but deep bass, these headphones offer a very crisp and clean sound.
For a planar, the sound is very fast with a strong attack and somewhat protracted decay. HE-560 has a clean and smooth signature that makes the sound flow with ease, making these headphones very addictive. From excellent detail retrieval and crystal clear and well-textured vocals, to a spacious soundstage and good instrument separation, to an impactful, tight and authoritative bass impact, these headphones will meet the needs of the discriminating audiophile, and are able to confidently address the nuances of many musical genres. Their level of comfort, good build quality and ergonomic design are unparalleled. They are the headphones I find myself drawn to most regularly, and with great satisfaction. At $899.00 I cannot think of another competitor that can offer the same level of quality at that price level and the HE-560 also has some nice qualities that eclipse the competition. This headphone exceeds my expectations and is worthy of my recommendation. They are definitely the headphone of choice!
HIFIMAN HE-560 (with Focus Pads)
DAC's Music Fidelity M1 DAC
AMP(S) Headroom Maxed Out Home Headphone Amplifier - SAC KH-1000 (AKG K-1000) - Schiit Audio's LYR
Bryan E Manuel
Read More Reviews
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 32