Katz's Corner

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Bob Katz  |  Aug 25, 2015  |  20 comments
Something had to give: Tyll has given me the assignment of evaluating a bunch of midprice phones. But I feel that the amps I have to drive them are not completely up to the task. The Burson Soloist is fun, punchy and “tubey”. The O2 sounds comparatively transparent and is a great bargain, but how would it compare to the big guys? So I knew I needed to include a transparent high class amp to drive and test these phones. But Mary would divorce me if I proposed buying yet another expensive headphone amp. Instead I found a solution: Build one instead. The process has proved to be very rewarding in all respects. Let me tell you about it here.
Bob Katz  |  Feb 16, 2016  |  131 comments
Hooo boy! Bob pulls out all the stops in his latest episode.

This is a little treasure trove of incisive opinion on a bunch of pretty darn good $150-$500 full-size sealed headphones.

Bob Katz  |  Mar 08, 2016  |  79 comments

Bob Katz has fallen in love with the Oppo PM-3 and HA-2. A rather long review, but hey, he's in love. Waxing prosaic is part of the deal.

Bob Katz  |  May 01, 2017  |  54 comments
After those episodes, conspiracy theories have abounded: Did somehow my brainwaves have managed to influence five strong-minded individuals in my direction. Was it valid for Bob to use different amplifiers for the two headphones? And why did Bob and Tyll's findings on the Utopia and LCD-4 differ so much?

Let's find out!

Bob Katz  |  Aug 14, 2017  |  21 comments
Today I'd like to discuss what I mean by sonic perfection or sonic neutrality. Most audiophiles have observed that excellent playback systems of different manufacturers can sound radically different! Even the most accurate loudspeakers are subtly voiced and are different sounding. But how can there be more than one "right"? Philosophically speaking, two different-sounding playback systems can't both be "right": one of them must be correct and the other must be incorrect! Or maybe both are wrong!
Bob Katz  |  Aug 31, 2017  |  11 comments
I have a love affair with my Stax SR-007 Mk2 phones, which I judge to be superior, smoother, more musical and accurate than the expensive SR-009 model. What's with Stax? For them "better" seems to mean brighter, but why manufacture an even brighter headphone when the 007 model already sounds too bright? Stax seems to be obsessed with detail at the expense of musicality or even accuracy. But after-market amplifiers have sweetened that tune to a great extent.
Bob Katz  |  Nov 27, 2017  |  34 comments
These specifications confuse consumers, who would be forced to use logarithms and equations to answer the basic questions. We need to make headphone sensitivity and amplifier level specs more user-friendly, useable, interchangeable and effective. So I think it's high time to ditch both sensitivity approaches, and we can do better than both Sennheiser and the IEC if we start thinking outside the box!
Bob Katz  |  Dec 06, 2017  |  11 comments
So today we'll pick up on this principle and briefly compare the sound qualities of six very different headphone amplifiers, concentrating on their headroom, impact, perceived loudness, detail, and depth. Then, in the next episode, I'll try to make sense of the listening and see if there is any correlation between what we measure and what we hear. Don't expect a miracle—listening versus measurements is an ongoing debate, but in Episode 22 I promise to reveal some tantalizing clues!
Bob Katz  |  Dec 19, 2017  |  15 comments
May I have a drumroll, please! Here is the expanded amplifier measurement chart, presenting the essential measurements in a way that consumers can actually use, without forcing them to become engineers. At first it appears to be a daunting looking chart, but consumers will be presented with only a few of these measurements.
Bob Katz  |  Jan 09, 2018  |  37 comments
I was planning on presenting the next episode in my "How Insensitive" series, but that'll have to wait till next time because a wonderful new toy has just arrived straight from the technical geniuses in Hong Kong. Today we're going to introduce you to a powerful new and affordable investigative tool: The MiniDSP EARS Headphone Jig, costing $179 USD. MiniDSP has been manufacturing audio-related DSP products since 2009. Led by charismatic Frenchman Tony Rouget, MiniDSP has made some innovative and affordable audio amplifiers, digital equalizers, DACs, calibrated measurement microphones and measurement tools.
Bob Katz  |  Apr 05, 2018  |  92 comments
Nelson Pass's Lab has produced an impeccable headphone amplifier with more than enough power, that's quiet, solid, and very clean. Several other reviewers have reflected on this excellent amplifier, but I want to weigh in with my unique sonic perspective and also measurements of its performance.
Bob Katz  |  May 03, 2018  |  57 comments
I believe that second harmonic distortion is sonic gold for audiophiles: It's very seductive, especially if you want a warm sound quality, three-dimensionality, and beautiful reproduction of ambience and depth. Based on the listening tests, there does not seem to be a sonic negative side if the proportions are done right. Yes, too much second harmonic and detail will be lost or the sound can become flubby, like some inferior tube preamp designs. That's why this listening test was so useful, as we can discover how much harmonic distortion is "just enough".
Bob Katz  |  Nov 10, 2015  |  33 comments

This episode is full of ideas on what makes audio sound better (or worse). If you're like me, constantly searching for scientific reasons, you'll enjoy this episode. Join me in trying to make audible sense of it all.

Bob Katz  |  Feb 02, 2016  |  19 comments
I'm not a shy guy. If I don't like a headphone, I'll pull it off my ears within five minutes! So far, I've had the Astell & Kearn AK T1p on for over 40 minutes and I keep wanting to check them out—so there must be something about them that's keeping me listening.
Bob Katz  |  Jul 31, 2015  |  60 comments
I am certain that sound quality improves when we sample at higher rates.

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