Monthly Archives: June 2017

Closed and Open Backed Headphones

Despite the wide range of different headphones that are available across the market today, they will all fall under one of two core categories; closed back headphones or open back headphones. But which is best suited to what listening environment?

What are closed back headphones?

Closed back headphones feature ear cups that fully encapsulate your ear and have an insulated shell exterior. This makes closed back headphones much more efficient at blocking out external sounds, making for a much more isolated listening experience. The sounds themselves sound a lot ‘closer’ to the listener because of this enclosed listening space. Closed back headphones are best for those who are using their headphones in loud environments, like on public transport, or for critical listening, such as an audio engineer completing a mix.

What about open back headphones?

As you can probably guess, open back headphones do not feature the same level of isolation offered by closed back headphones. Many open back headphones feature perforations in the physical design to accommodate the easy flow of sound in and out of the headphones. This means that your music will sound much more ‘in the world’ than the close, isolated sound of closed back headphones. Listeners will have a much more increased space and sense of realism whilst using open back headphones, but they do suffer from more bleed than closed back headphones, both for external sounds getting in to your ears, and your music getting out to those around you. Probably not the best choice for the bus!

Do you have some good examples of each type?

At Advanced MP3 Players, we have a wide range of both closed and open back headphones to choose from. Here are a few of our favourites:

Sony MDR-1000X – £369.00

MDR1000XLARGEA powerful pair of Hi Res closed back headphones that work with either a cable or via Bluetooth. The isolated listening space created by these headphones is compounded by the addition of active noise cancelling technology for a truly intimate listening experience.

HiFiMan HE-400i – £359.00

HE400iLARGEWe’ve discussed planar magnetic design methodology before, and these open back headphones take full advantage of this technology to create a lifelike soundstage and spatial imaging. They are also very efficient and are compatible with smartphones and portable audio players.

Audio-Technica MSR7BK – £199.00

ATHMSR7BKLARGEThe MSR7BK’s housing is designed to mirror the full shape of the ear using a layered aluminium/magnesium mix. This means that despite being closed back, they are very lightweight, and have some small vents within these layers to help control air flow and dynamic range.

HiFiMan Edition S – £209.00

HE-EDITIONSLARGENot a brand to stick to traditional headphone design, HiFiMan have created a pair of headphones with a removable logo cap on the ear cup, meaning that these headphones can be either closed or open back headphones. The best of both worlds!

All of these models are available now at Advanced MP3 Players. Be sure to drop us a line if you need any further advice choosing your next audio product!

A Quick Start Guide to Headphone Amps

Many avid music listeners wonder if they need a headphone amp to get the best from their setup. Many more than that wonder what headphone amps even are!

In the simplest terms, a headphone amp sits between your music source and your headphones, and then amplifies that signal. All players have some sort of amp already built in, but many simply cannot be powerful enough to drive some excellent quality headphones whilst being compact enough to fit inside your device.

Factors that affect whether you require a headphone amp or not include the type of headphones you have and their output impedance. The larger your headphones, the more amplification is required. You will find that larger, more high-end headphones are less efficient than others. You’ll be disappointed with the volume of your brand new planar headphones if you aren’t using an amp. However, smaller and more portable options such as in ear monitors will be less likely to require an amp, and noise cancelling earphones shouldn’t need one at all thanks to the built in amp they already have. The same thing applies to output impedance (measured in ohms); the higher the impedance, the more power required. Factors that affect the quality of the headphone amp itself include the amp’s signal to noise ratio (SNR), impedance range, power output, and total harmonic distortion (THD).

To make the buying process a little easier, here are a few of our top headphone amp choices to suit different budgets and requirements.

Portable Headphone Amplifiers

Cayin C6 – £129.00

cayinc6The C6 is designed specifically for Apple products, and even comes with a lightning to micro USB cable, so those with iPhone 7s needn’t worry! The brushed aluminium casing provides elecro-magnetic shielding and is robust enough to ensure the C6 is protected in the face of everyday use.

FiiO A1 – £25.99

FIIOA1LARGEBy far the smallest and most budget friendly amp on this list, the A1 provides a higher power and more hi-fidelity output than smartphones, making it great on the go. It has a removable back clip, four EQ modes, and 13 hours of battery life.

FiiO A5 – £109.00

FIIOA5-BLACKLARGEThe A1’s big brother! The A5 contains a highly efficient, low-resistance power management system that reduces distortion and increases dynamic range. Smart charging means that the battery can be charged in 2.5 hours for 12 hours of useage. There is Hi-Res compatibility and even comes in two different colours.

iBasso D14 Bushmaster – £175.00

IBASSOD14LARGEA model that can work either as a portable amplifier or as a DAC on Android devices, the superior iBasso components means that the Bushmaster will provide you some of the best sound on the go that is currently available.

Desktop Headphone Amplifiers

Questyle CMA400i – £799.99

CMA400iE3LWe’ve already talked about this amazing model on the AMP3 Blog recently, but it is worth talking about this lovingly crafted and extensively tested product that exceeds all expectation again! With many different outputs and switchable voltages as well as balanced support, this model works effectively both as a powerful headphone amp and a brilliant sounding DAC.

Sony TAZH1ES – £1600.00

TAZH1ESCELLARGEA new arena of musical expression – Unleash the full potential of your headphones and experience the emotional impact of every song as the artist intended. Combining the best of digital and analog sound technology, this one’s for the serious listeners.

All of these models are available to order from Advanced MP3 Players, and if you need any further advice, be sure to get in touch!

AMP3 Quick Start Guide to Planar Magnetic Headphones

With the release of the new Audeze LCD-i4 in ear headphones now upon us, this feels like an appropriate time to discuss one of the key selling points of these incredibly detailed earphones; planar magnetic technology.

What is Planar Magnetic Technology?

Sometimes referred to as orthodynamic headphones, planar magnetic headphones differ to the more traditional dynamic headphone. Dynamic headphones generate sound by using a coil of wire (often called a voice coil) attached to a diaphragm, and a suspension is created to allow the coil and diaphragm to move back and forth like a piston, moving enough air to produce sound. However, depending on the quality of the dynamic headphone speaker cone, there will be inconsistencies across the frequency spectrum meaning that though many dynamic headphones have a very nice sound signature, they are not necessarily 100% accurate when they reproduce an audio signal. Dynamic headphones also deteriorate quicker over time.

In contrast, planar magnetic headphones use an incredibly thin, lightweight and resilient film diaphragm (around 1/10th the thickness of a human hair), stretched over a sturdy frame, and placed between magnetic arrays. In these headphones, the coil is unwound and spread across this film diaphragm. As the current flows, the magnetic field is created within the headphone that causes the diaphragm to move.planarblog

What are the benefits?

The film diaphragm in planar magnetic headphones is often lighter than the air it is moving, meaning that they can be driven with an incredible accuracy. The sound they produce feature faster transients, more responsive bass, more detailed highs and a wider dynamic range than other headphones.

As the voice coil is spread over a larger area than in traditional headphones, planar magnetic headphones are also much better at dissipating heat, and can handle a huge amount of power without distorting.

Overall, this type of headphone features higher sensitivity, can play louder with tighter control and reduced colouration, and more controlled directivity. However, their design means they will suffer from more leakage than traditional dynamic headphones.

Who are these headphones best suited for?

Planar magnetic headphones are best suited to those who want to want to have a very analytical, accurate sound that is more immersive overall than what a dynamic headphone could offer. However, those looking to invest in such a pair of headphones or earphones must be aware that they are much larger than traditional headphones, though not necessarily heavier and more fatiguing to wear over a prolonged period of time. It should also be noted that planar magnetic headphones come with a much more premium price tag than most dynamic headphones.

Dynamic headphones are still an excellent alternative, and still dominate the headphone market thanks to the wide range of prices and variety of sound signatures and audio fidelities that different pairs can achieve. Dynamic headphones are much better suited to casual listeners, and those who do not want to spend more on planar magnetic technology will still be able to find a pair of dynamic headphones that still sound fantastic.

Which planar producing brands do you stock?

The two main brands that we at Advanced MP3 Players range which feature planar magnetic technology are Audeze and HiFiMAN. Here are a few of our favourites:

Audeze LCD-i4 In-Ear Planar Headphones featuring Fluxor Magnetic Technology – £2399.00

LCDI4LARGEAudeze’s goal when designing the LCD-i4 was to make the absolute best sounding in-ear experience. They took their award winning LCD-4 design and scaled it down to create an end-game in-ear headphone that is far more portable. Designed to give the user a truly wide and accurate soundstage, superior transient response, bass response flat from 900Hz down to 5Hz, the LCDi4s with a single driver deliver a coherency of sound lacking in multi-driver designs. With an impedance of about 35 ohms, it should be used with a high-quality headphone amplifier.

iSINE 20 In-Ear Planar Headphones Lightning – £599.00

ADZ110IE101001LARGEDesigned for Apple products, the iSINE 20 is one step up from the iSINE 10 featuring an even longer Uniforce voice-coil that covers the ultra-thin diaphragm to a greater extent, enabling better control and responsiveness for better bass, clarity, and improved imaging. Zero distortion sound means you’ll feel closer to the recorded to your music. Add the included Lightning cable with DSP and there’s no other in-ear headphone that even comes close to its performance. To ensure all-day comfort, a pair of Ear Hooks and EarLocks® are provided along with silicon and foam tips.

Audeze Sine – World’s First On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone with Standard Audio Cable – £399.00

ADZ200SINE72115LARGEIdeal for those who want to try planar magnetic technology on a budget! These beautifully designed headphones can fold flat for ultimate portability, and have near zero distortion, giving them the premium Audeze sound at a fraction of the price.

HiFiMAN HE-1000 v2 Planar Headphones – £2599.00HE1000SMALLNot content to rest on their laurels, HiFiMan now present the HE-1000 V2 Planar Headphones, their most luxurious headphone yet. With the original HE-1000 headphones as a starting point, Dr. Fang Bian and his team at HiFiMan have redesigned and updated their award-winning flagship to produce something even greater in the HE-1000 v2.

The HE1000 V2 remains a cutting-edge, full-size headphone intended for reference use in the home or studio. At much less than 0.001 mm, its Nanotech planar magnetic driver is so thin it is not visible from the side with the naked eye. New features include an improved headband design that is lighter and stiffer yet will accommodate a wider range of head sizes. The ear cups are also slimmer further reducing weight and increasing comfort.

HiFiMAN HE-400i Open Back Full-Size Planar Magnetic 93 db Sensitivity Headphones – £359.00400i Another great value set of orthodynamic headphones. The HiFiMan HE-400i is a full-size planar magnetic headphone intended for high performance listening in the home or studio. Using single-ended drivers, HE-400i delivers a lifelike soundstage and spatial imaging. Its increased efficiency of 93dB allows it to be driven with a modest size amplifier or can even be used with a portable audio player or smartphone.

These models and many others are now available to order from Advanced MP3 Players. Be sure to check in frequently for new models and great offers as they arrive, and if you need further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

New Premium DAPs On AMP3

At Advanced MP3 Players, we pride ourselves on being able to provide a plethora of different DAPs to suit the needs of every customer. Be it something light and portable or something with more outputs than you could shake a stick at, we’ve got you covered. This also goes for those who are looking for something more premium… a cream of the crop DAP. Over the upcoming months, we will be stocking two fantastic new high end digital audio players that may pique your interests. Both are available to pre-order now, and we have all the details on these new models below.

Questyle QP2R Hi-Resolution Digital Audio Player

QP2RLARGE

Following on from Questyle’s acclaimed QP1R, the QP2R is an improvement over an already brilliant player, now with higher storage capacity, an upgraded and improved scroll wheel, and an ever clearer, immersive sound.

Questyle have always had audio performance and listening experience as their core values, and this hasn’t changed with the QP2R.

Features include:

  • More than 10 hours of battery
  • Accepts up to 200GB microSD card for external expansion
  • 3.5mm headphone/optical output, 2.5mm balanced output
  • Supports USB DAC
  • Linux OS
  • 65 x 134 x 14.5mm in size
  • Supports WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF and APE file formats

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000 Digital Audio Player

SP1000E3L

Now this is how you make a flagship model! The A&ultima SP1000 is a one of a kind, high end, powerful high resolution music player equipped with the latest advanced features. The ultimate in sound quality, this is the first Astell & Kern player to feature an octa-core CPU for outstanding response and performance, a high definition HD5 display to create the best viewing experience, and an innovative new multi-function volume wheel and stainless steel or copper housing. An improvement over the already stellar AK380 model, the SP1000 really needs to be heard to be believed.

Features include:

  • Capable of 32/384kHz bit to bit playback
  • Native DSD 11.2MHz
  • Dual DACs
  • USB 3.0 Type C connector
  • Fast charging
  • 5 inch touch display
  • Octa-core CPU
  • Parametric EQ
  • 200fs VCXO reference clock
  • Stainless steel/copper body
  • Multi-function wheel key
  • Expandable memory up to 512GB

Both of these models are now available to be pre-ordered from AMP3 now. If you require any further information about either of these excellent models before you make the investment, do not hesitate to give us a call or an email. If you’d like to see either of these models bundled with another product you are interested in, but cannot see the bundle you’d be interested in, let us know!

 

The Best Digital Audio Players (DAPs) Under £300

Are you in the market for a new DAP, but don’t want to stretch your budget? Maybe you’re iPod finally gave up the ghost, and you want to try something new around the same price point? Well, here are five great digital audio players under the £300 mark, as recommended by us here at Advanced MP3 Players!

iBasso DX80  DX80LARGEThe powerful iBasso DX80 is an awesome multi-functional lossless music device. Featuring dual SD card slots, optical and coax digital outputs as well as USB DAC capabilities, there’s a lot of features to love here, and it sounds great too.

Sony NW-A35

NWA35E3L

The successor to the wildly popular NW-A15 from a couple of years ago, this touch screen Hi-Res player from Sony has many of their premium audio features such as the DSEE HX upscaler built into a sleek, minimalist design that comes in a variety of colours.

FiiO X1ii

FIIOX1IIE2L

At just under £100, the FiiO X1ii is stacked full of features often reserved for much more expensive players, such as Hi-Res playback, expandable memory, Bluetooth 4.0 and an in-vehicle mode that switches the player on when you start your car engine. It even comes in a Rose Gold colour variant for the Apple fans!

Cayin N3

CAYINN3E3L

Another small but powerful player, the Cayin N3 features a memory expandable up to 256GB, Bluetooth 4.0, three distinct colour schemes and a USB DAC mode, all whilst weighing just less than 100g!

Cowon Plenue D

COWONPDLARGE

The smallest of Cowon’s acclaimed Plenue series of players, the Plenue D has a powerful performance capable of faithfully reproducing original studio sound anytime, anywhere. This Hi-Res player may not come with some of the bells and whistles that other players on this list do such as Bluetooth or USB DAC mode, but it does feature a simply gorgeous sound signature and a staggering 100-hour battery life.

These models are now available at Advanced MP3 Players. Be sure to check out the bundle deals on these products, and if you don’t see a bundle you are after, be sure to drop us a ticket or call us on 0343 289 6880 and we will see what we can do!