Damaged Gears

Evolve your Gears

Splash Damage: MDR-ZX700, MDR-EX310s, NWZ-E354

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A few months back, I unilaterally declared Shure SRH-840s one of the best closed cans on the market, period.

I may have to eat those words.

Well, to be precise, the SRH840s from Shure is the best closed can that you can buy for more than $150.  There are quite a few cans that claim that title, such as the Ultrasones and the Sony MDR-7509HDs (which are quite good by the by).  But let’s face it, in the realm of cl0sed cans, it’s the MDR-7506 (aka the V6), and everyone else.  For the price and durability along with quality, nothing really compares to the MDR-7506.

Meet the MDR-ZX700, but you may call him the rightful heir to the MDR-7506, if you may.

Everything is almost just right about these cans, from the build and isolation to the soundstaging (and not bad of a soundstage at that, for a closed can even!) to the absolutely fantastic sound quality.  It took me all but 4 minutes of demoing to steer me away from my intended purchase of MDR-EX600.  I’ll have more on them, but needless to say, they are one of the best closed cans, and at $120 or less, well worth your cash.

Grade: A

The MDR-EX310s are intended to be replacements for my beat up MDR-EX500s.  I had originally intended to get the EX600 as replacements, but with the addition of the ZX700s, I gave these a try.

Very reminiscent of MDR-EX500s at the onset, if a little more claustrophobic?  I reserve judgement on these.

The NWZ-E354?  The best MP3 Sony’s released outside of the X Series.  Alas, too little, too late.

Grade: B

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Written by Damage

04/21/11 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Soapbox

damagedgears.com and damagedgears.net

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And from now on, all of my new posts will go there.  Old ones will be preserved here until whenever I feel like axing them.

Written by Damage

09/4/10 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Damage vs. Ancient History

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Or, Damage finds and reviews a Sony MDR-E484.The Walkman in Contrast with Ancient History
That’s right. Damage has found a working specimen of MDR-E484. A quick Google search tells you that these date back to at least 2004 and earlier. Good luck actually finding one though, they’ve been discontinued.

Hell, a recent eBay auction of a used pair shows that these sold for $300. You know what you can get for that kind of money? A 3/4th of an iPad. That’s what. And are they worth that kind of Money?

If you can blow it, sure. It’s a curious and interesting find. I think they sound no worse than MDR-E888, probably a bit smoother and more balanced E888 if I had to give my first impression on these. But they do bear one point, that some of these older gears are much better than newer stuff on the market.

Written by Damage

08/24/10 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Damage vs. MicroHD, Q2, NWZ-E345

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It’s been awhile.  The SRH840 Splash Damage was brewing for about the last two months, and I just got around to writing my thoughts about them.  Safe to say, they are one of the best Closed Phones Damage’s had the pleasure of using.

And then, there are the JVC MicroHD (HA-FXC50).  They retail for $40, can be had as cheap as $10, and by far, the hidden gems of 2010 as far as Damage is concerned.  They use a different type of driver configuration vs. most other Canal-Buds.  They are, make no mistake, dynamic driver based (not armature driven).  The drivers sit where the buds/sleeves terminate and sit closer to your ears than other Dynamic driver IEMs/Buds.  Therefore, they sound more intimate than other earbuds want.  Like most balanced armature based IEMs.

Then there are the build quality of these drivers.  Metal casings on the outside, silicon air cushions on the inside, small driver housings, and sleeves that are bigger but still comfortable.  Now, all of these are moot if they sound like the Maxwell Peanuts. They don’t.  In fact, they sound much closer to Triple.Fi 10s.  How close?  How about 85% of  Triple.Fis?

Well, it doesn’t have the staging or the balance of the Triple.Fis.  And you shouldn’t expect them to, either.  However, they sound energetic, bassy when it needs to be and bright (very much so that they border on harshness) when the need to.  Punch at times, but mellow when they need to be.  They are excellent performers for all genres.  In fact, listening to these on the Chesky’s Demo CD was a pure pleasure, only failing on depth and holographic testing like many other IEMs have done in the past.

$10-$30.  And you get 85% of quality of $400 IEMs.

Grade: A

AS for my very brief thoughts on Samsung Q2: I miss my buttons.  And the NWZ-E345?  16 Gigs for $70?  Sold.  I do miss some of the high end features like MSC transfer ability, but you know what?  It’s still 16 Gigs of Music for $70.  I can’t argue with that.  Expect a full review on those soon.

Written by Damage

06/17/10 at 10:31 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Splash Damage: Shure SRH840

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OK.  With work comes new opportunities.  One of these opportunities grants me to review headphones.  And recently, I was invited to try out the Shure SRH840, the top of the line Shure Closed Monitors.  Damage, of course, bit.  And for you, a Splash Damage on the Shure SRH840.

A disclosure:  I am a big fan of Sony MDR-V6/7506.  With few exceptions, I have not found any closed set of headphones that comes nearly close to the V6s.  Until now, that is.

It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to these, but they are hands down, one of the best Closed Set of Headphones/Over the Ear (Circumaural if you want to get fancy) Monitors.  The general, well balanced but slightly dark and a bit bass shy sound signature of the Shure set is well present.  That is, it’s very close to the sounds of the Shure SCL4/E4s of yore.  However, as is, the sound stage of these are larger than IEMs.  Whereas the V6s mostly keep things on a single, 2D plane (which isn’t bad), the SRH840s seems to have more dimensionality to them, with a bit of Up and Down definition.  It also has its bright moments like V6s, but isn’t as nearly bright nor sibilant as the V6s.

Will the Shure SRH840 dethrone the legend of V6s?  Probably do a degree, but there are a lot of engineers and music lovers who swear by the V6s, and for good reasons.  It makes well mixed and recorded materials shine; equally, it makes shoddy recordings sound even more so shoddy.  SRHs, on the other hand, seems to be a bit more forgiving on this aspect.

Nonetheless, the Shure SRH840s have the quality (both build and sound) to make it a worthy contender to the V6s.

Grade: A+

Written by Damage

06/17/10 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Damage Reviews: MDR-E888

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Alright, I was originally going to give the Triple.Fi’s a fully deserved review, but they are with Logitech at the moment due to defective left driver.  Oh well.  However, I’ve listened to MDR-E888 enough to give my full impressions on the nigh legendary earbuds.  Suffice to say that there are no other earbuds of this caliber (save the Yuins which I’ve not yet heard…  Want to give me one?  Inquire within…  Please?!?) on the market.  And, easy for me to say that, if you love earbuds that doesn’t involve shoving things deep within your canals, you should really getyour hands on a pair of these…  And if you love portable audio in general, well…  it becomes complicated, but in a good way, I suppose.

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Written by Damage

02/25/10 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Soapbox

Splash Damage: MDR-E888, Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10

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I’ve been back from Korea for about two weeks.  For one, it was very cold in Korea.  Freezing my butt and ears off, literally.

However, the trip was very fruitful, both personally and gears wise.  Since this isn’t my Facebook page, I’ll just have to update you on the gears side of things.  So, here is then my quick impression of Sony MDR-E888s (obtained in Korea), JVC Flats (Also obtained in Korea), and Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10.  Actually, I’ll save the impressions of Triple.Fi 10 for another post.  Suffice to say, it is one of the most impressive gears in my collection (and this includes Shure E4Cs, at one time of the more beloved IEMs).

MDR-E888:  Sony’s legendary open earbuds, all but extinct from the US Shores once the EX-series of earbuds more or less conquered the earphone market.  Of course, the EX series itself was conquered by clones and me-too in ear buds by many manufacturers, but that’s for another post.

I say the MDR-E888 is legendary (a cursory search would support this claim somewhat), and was considered as such before the Yuin’s of the world made its impact.  It is mostly a forgotten legend now that Sony no longer sells MDR-E888s, or any other high end earbuds, period.  Which is a total shame, since the E888s are very impressive, even more so than the current MDR-EX300/500 line of  in-ear buds.

Somewhat flat and neutral sounding, yet very open and expansive.  In fact, it has remarkably open soundstage, rivaling full sized open cans, Such as Grado SR60 (a very full sized open cans).  E888s takes to EQ like fish to water as well.  I dare not mod these (though there are couple of mods available) as that’s how I killed my first set of E888s (I had a set few years back, thanks to Ben).  It does exhibit some treble roll-off and feels slow at times, especially so with high-energy tracks.  However, given the general balance and openness of the phones, it’s forgivable.  What is not, however, is the large size of the drivers (16.5mm) and may be physically incompatible with certain people’s ears.

Avoid the fakes (get them from reputable source such as Audiocubes) and you’re in possession of a legendary earbuds and reminder of Sony’s glorious past.  A Reminder that Sony is, at heart, an quality electronics company, even if its current line up do not inspire such confidence.

Grade: B+, if you can fit the drivers.  C- if the drivers do not fit.

JVC Flats.  Marshmellows, but bigger.  Very decent sounding for $10-$20.  Vocals do tend to sound awfully sinusy at time.  Rather unremarkable when it comes to sound.  And I think that’s the point here.  But given the price, these are much better bang for your dollars than other closed or clip-ons at this price (save KSC-75s).  Much better than Sony’s offering at this price.  The MDR-V160 comes to mind, which are piss poor compared to the Flats.  The MDR-XD100s are a better pair of cans, but they are two different beasts.

Having sad that, however, I can’t generally recommend the Flats as much as I thought I would.  Given the general good feeling from Head-Fi and what not, I may have expected more from these than what they can offer.  But for the price, it’s entirely unremarkable and inoffensive.  Which is a big enough statement as is.  I suppose.

Grade: C+

Written by Damage

02/9/10 at 12:29 am

Posted in Soapbox