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Audio Discussion => Equipment Reviews => Topic started by: bearjew on December 27, 2016, 04:58:57 PM

Title: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bearjew on December 27, 2016, 04:58:57 PM
So I got a new job that requires lots of travel, which means lots of time in airports, on planes, and in a hotel room.  So as a gift to myself for my birthday, Chanukah, and as a congratulations for getting the new job, my wife and I agreed that I could get the Audeze EL-8 Titaniums.  I got a huge discount on Black Friday at Northern Audio.  I was originally going to buy the standard EL-8's, but they were out of stock, and the guy at Northern made me a deal I couldn't refuse.  I actually bought them before I got the offer letter from the new employer, thinking I could just return them if I didn't get the job.  Xinlei wouldn't even let me open them until I got the offer.  I had to wait 3 days while having the box sitting right on my desk!  So an offer letter and one NDA later, I got to open the box!

First, these things feel solid.  I read reviews about early models that said the cables come out easily and there was noise, but it appears as though they fixed the connectors because they are very firmly in place with no wiggle at all and no noise.  They are over-ear, and they decently heavy, but I've had them on for about 6 hours today, and I'm not fatigued in the least.  They use lambskin leather for the earpads, which I was hesitant about, but they're very soft, and I haven't started sweating or even feeling warm.  They feel very well built; nothing feels flimsy about them.

Onto the important part: the sound.  I read that 30 hours is about what it takes to get these puppies broken in, and that seems to be on point.  I'm about 15 hours in now, and they're drastically better than they were 15 hours ago.  Normal drill: they were pretty stiff sounding at first, and they are starting to open up.  The bass is starting to present itself more and more and the overly sharp and crisp high ends are starting to pull back into the fold.  I can't wait to hear how they sound in another 15 hours.

The Cipher cable wasn't originally a part of the plan, as I didn't intend to buy the Titaniums, but now that I have it and am now an iPhone user, it's kind of awesome.  In case you don't feel like researching it, the Cipher cable is a cable that Audeze made that has a lightning connector and plugs directly into the phone.  It has a built-in DAC, volume controls, and microphone.  I haven't spent a ton of time using it, but in my experience so far, it sounds "good".  I can definitely tell a difference using it over the 1/8" on my phone, but after spending some time listening through my computer using my Digidesign DAC, I'm not sold on it.  After another few weeks and flights, if my opinion of it doesn't strengthen, I will probably take the plunge and spring for that little Peachtree mobile DAC.  We'll see though.  I think it would be foolish of me to try to say that it sounds bad, as it most certainly does not, but I wonder if the Peachtree might give a little more being a dedicated piece of equipment.  Regardless, the Cipher cable is pretty amazing considering how compact it is.

Just for some reference, here are some songs I've been listening to:

Patricia Barber - Ode to Billy Joe ~3000kbps.  Of course I listened to good old Patty.  The snaps in that song are so crisp and clear.  You can hear every move as the bassist slides around the fingerboard.

Aerosmith - Walk This Way ~ 5644kbps.  I'm not a huge Aerosmith fan, but I do really enjoy the nuances of Steven Tyler's voice.  These headphones allowed me the luxury of hearing every ounce of grit.

Pink Floyd - Careful With That Axe, Eugene ~ 5227kbps.  This was basically 9 minutes of me saying "why the hell can't every recording be this great?".

Long story short, these cans kick ass.  And they're comfortable, even on my big-ass melon.
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: Jim Pittsburgh on December 27, 2016, 08:45:45 PM
congrats... look forward to hearing them
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: BrianT on December 28, 2016, 05:29:08 PM
BJ

Congrats on the new Job, and the set of cans.

Brian
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bearjew on December 28, 2016, 06:38:37 PM
BJ

Congrats on the new Job, and the set of cans.

Brian

Thanks Brit.  How are things in the cold dark north known as America's hat?
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: OldiesButGoodies on December 28, 2016, 08:49:41 PM
Will try them next week at N Audio - not sure I tested those cans last time I was there. 

Congrats on the new gig and two pieces of advice now that you will travel a lot:
1. Get TSA Pre -> worth the money not to have the hassle in security
2. Get your ducks in a row with the frequent flyer programs so you maximize progress towards higher status and better seats.
3. Be nice to Canadians

:-)

Pepe
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bearjew on December 29, 2016, 06:57:43 AM
Will try them next week at N Audio - not sure I tested those cans last time I was there. 

Congrats on the new gig and two pieces of advice now that you will travel a lot:
1. Get TSA Pre -> worth the money not to have the hassle in security
2. Get your ducks in a row with the frequent flyer programs so you maximize progress towards higher status and better seats.
3. Be nice to Canadians

:-)

Pepe

I recommend them.  Just to be clear, I have the Titaniums, which are closed-back.  The EL-8 comes in closed and open; Titanium is closed only.  He had me try the Focal Utopias, but I found the EL-8's to be more comfortable.  That might just be because I have a big head though.  The Utopias probably sounded better than the EL-8's, but no 3200 dollars better.

I'm actually getting "Global Entry" because I'll be traveling internationally, and it includes pre-check.  I'm already signed up with American Airlines, IHG, and Enterprise, and I will sign up for more as I need to.  I also got that Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card because it has double points on flights and on restaurants.

I'll try my best with the Candians...  no guarantees though  >:D
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on December 29, 2016, 09:26:48 AM
Might as well sign up with the 2-3 other airlines too.  You'll be on them eventually.
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: Kingman on December 29, 2016, 10:03:29 AM
Congrats on the new job Steve!!!  :)
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: papabearjew on December 30, 2016, 12:47:30 AM
I'm proud of you Steve. A very impressive career at such a young age. "System Engineer" sounds great!
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on January 01, 2017, 07:41:32 PM
Steve,

The Computer Audiophile web site gave the Dragonfly Red their DAC of the Year award.  It is also a headphone amp and costs only $200, plus $39 for a cable needed to charge the iDevice and connect to the Dragonfly at the same time.  Worth looking into especially since both products are available on Amazon.com and returnable if you don't like them.  I'd get the Red instead of Black due to the higher power output.

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/733-ca-s-2016-products-year/ (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/733-ca-s-2016-products-year/)

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/714-audioquest-dragonfly-red-dragonfly-black-review/ (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/714-audioquest-dragonfly-red-dragonfly-black-review/)
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: OldiesButGoodies on January 01, 2017, 08:30:22 PM
Steve,

The Computer Audiophile web site gave the Dragonfly Red their DAC of the Year award.  It is also a headphone amp and costs only $200, plus $39 for a cable needed to charge the iDevice and connect to the Dragonfly at the same time.  Worth looking into especially since both products are available on Amazon.com and returnable if you don't like them.  I'd get the Red instead of Black due to the higher power output.

[url]http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/733-ca-s-2016-products-year/[/url] ([url]http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/733-ca-s-2016-products-year/[/url])

[url]http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/714-audioquest-dragonfly-red-dragonfly-black-review/[/url] ([url]http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/714-audioquest-dragonfly-red-dragonfly-black-review/[/url])


Scott -

I separately also recommended that DAC to Steve - specially since it has extra power for demanding cans.  I have the original Dragonfly and use it as my main system DAC (until I score a Young DSD, which I am hunting for).  Steve wants something that will decode 384KBPS,  however.  Personally I do not detect a meaningful difference with higher-than-96kbps decoding,  and the Jriver software I use will automatically transcode anything into whatever speed I tell it to.  I bought the Emotiva Little Ego DAC and returned it (384 kbps and all) when it did not sound as good or better than the Dragonfly.  I need to investigate if the Big Ego is any better but specs look very similar.  I am skeptical of Emotiva's  engineering after I discovered they used a 90 cent all-in-one unit for the headphone section of their $2500 preamp.

I have read enough reports to hint that a DAC that does 384 and DSD may be worth it (DSD media can sound really really good, according to others).  On that note the Oppo HA-2SE and the Peachtree Audio Shift are interesting options,  but I have not tested either first hand so will not comment further.

OBG
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on January 01, 2017, 08:45:48 PM
Steve is looking for a traveling rig if I remember correctly and is using an iPhone as a source.  That means any thing higher resolution than a CD is a moot point.

Maybe he is wanting to be able to use the DAC in his home rig too.  But in my experience that is going to compromise the portability.  An iPhone/iTouch, Dragonfly Red, $39 cable and his Audeze EL8s should be a killer traveling rig.
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on January 01, 2017, 08:49:50 PM
Pepe,

Where does a person buy music files at 384 and DSD.  I'm ignorant on this topic admittedly.  I was buying HDTracks stuff for a while but stopped because I never listened to the files since they were hard to play in my set up which is very iTune/Apple centric.  Do have a Squeezebox Touch that streams/plays these file, but rarely use it, maybe I'm missing out.

Scott
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on January 01, 2017, 09:33:35 PM
Just read this on OPPO's web site about the HA-2SE, didn't know I already had a DAC that will do these two formats. 

"Asynchronous USB DAC -  By bypassing the smartphone's built-in DAC and headphone amplification circuit that are often cost-constrained, the HA-2SE turns a smartphone into a high performance digital audio player. The asynchronous USB DAC input of the HA-2SE also works with PC and Mac computers to replace the built-in sound card and support high-resolution audio playback with PCM up to 384 kHz 32-bit and DSD up to 12 MHz (DSD256)."
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: OldiesButGoodies on January 02, 2017, 12:02:43 AM
Pepe,

Where does a person buy music files at 384 and DSD.  I'm ignorant on this topic admittedly.  I was buying HDTracks stuff for a while but stopped because I never listened to the files since they were hard to play in my set up which is very iTune/Apple centric.  Do have a Squeezebox Touch that streams/plays these file, but rarely use it, maybe I'm missing out.

Scott


You can buy them from various suppliers,  here's one:

http://www.primephonic.com/format/premium-pro-quality-dsd-stereo?gclid=COSalrLWotECFVqewAod58MPDQ (http://www.primephonic.com/format/premium-pro-quality-dsd-stereo?gclid=COSalrLWotECFVqewAod58MPDQ)

,you can rip SACDs using a modified SACD player or an old Sony PS3 or

,you can download them using torrent file software from the net or

,get them from other geeks willing to share them after somehow getting them.

Regards,

OBG
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: papabearjew on January 02, 2017, 12:59:34 AM
I think I'll put another vinyl record on. I understand analog!
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bearjew on January 02, 2017, 09:35:29 AM
Woah I missed a lot here!  My goal is to have a DAC to use both on my desktop computer at home, my laptop in the hotel room, and my phone on the road.  I have files that are 24/192 and even above that.  Admittedly, nothing at 32/384, but there are still some things over 192 that I'd like to leave at original resolution.  I figure that getting a 32/384 leaves me in a good position.  The Peachtree Shift and the Oppo HA2 are my top options right now.  My concern with the Dragonfly DACs are that they'll probably drain my battery more than the Shift or HA2 because it relies on the phone's battery.  I have been using the Cipher cable that came with the cans, and things sound good, but I feel like there could be improvement.  I'm flying out to California tonight, and I'm bringing some giant high-res files that I didn't have last time, and we'll see how it all goes.  Also bringing mp3 versions and regular CD-quality for comparison.  During the flight, my source will be my iPhone, and the music is all stored on a Sandisk Connect wireless flash drive that I connect to the phone.  I needed something wireless because the cipher cable uses the lightning port on the phone.  Will report back on this tomorrow.  I know Rev has a Peachtree shift and he loves it, and Scott, you said you have the HA2 and like it.  I have a feeling I'll just go for whichever of those is cheaper at the time that I go to make the purchase.  I probably couldn't go wrong with either.

Also, I put another several hours on the cans, and they're just getting better and better.  I forgot what high quality sounded like until now.  Astonishing.
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: Magnaryder on January 02, 2017, 10:23:17 AM
Steve, congrats on the new cans. Sherry and I were in the 'Burgh a couple off weeks ago spent some time at Music to my Ear and Northern Hifi? (upstairs at MTME) then met up with the Toms. I'm looking at the Audeze LCD-2. Listened to them and the have the same synergy my home rig has. I run a Modi2 Uber at the office.

I do want to know how you got the Sandisk to work with your IPhone. See PM

BTW my Schiit Lyr gets delivered tomorrow. So thats a 3 piece SchiitStack.


ray   
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bmwr75 on January 02, 2017, 10:37:06 AM
Steve,

Looking forward to your report on the Sandisk Connect wireless flash drive.  Had not heard of this before.  Looks like it broadcasts the music via Wi-Fi........interesting.  A 64GB model is $100 at Amazon.com.

Scott
Title: Re: Audeze EL-8 Titanium
Post by: bearjew on January 02, 2017, 11:18:49 AM
Ray, The LCD-2 are supposed to be amazing.  They were a little out of my price range, but I have no doubt that they're great considering that I love the EL-8s

Guys, I'll post the Sandisk stuff on another thread; I just got it all figured out.