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Hifiman Sundara Review (headphone)

Music1969

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Hi @solderdude

Are planars less susceptible to driver damage due to excessive volume, than dynamic ?

What is their mechanism of damage with high SPL ?

And what are the signs/symptoms ?


I plugged into a DAC/amp and didn't realise the volume was at max 0dBFS - I had paused music volume beforehand but music app did not respect my pause !

Lucky cans were not on my head.

They actually sound fine atm - haven't heard any issues with any songs.

But I'm worried if there was some minor damage still.
 
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solderdude

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Hi @solderdude

Are planars less susceptible to driver damage due to excessive volume, than dynamic ?

Some have a much higher power rating, but there are also planars with a less impressive power rating.

Dynamic headphones power ratings range from 20mW to a few Watt.


What is their mechanism of damage with high SPL ?

Excessive power, DC on the driver, for dynamics the wires from the coil to the chassis are the vulnerable parts both mechanically (think Focal) and electrically.
When a voicecoil has overheated chances are the former or lacquer on the wires is bulging which could result in distortion, severe loss off bass (when stuck in the air gap) right down to open circuit.
For planars the contact area between the membrane's traces and chassis can be a nuisance. In this case intermittend or much softer sound or distortion can be tell-tale signs.


And what are the signs/symptoms ?

As decribed above.. from loss or distorted bass, 'sounds/noises' that should not be there, loss of SPL to no sound.
I plugged into a DAC/amp and didn't realise the volume was at max 0dBFS - I had paused music volume beforehand but music app did not respect my pause !

Lucky cans were not on my head.

They actually sound fine atm - haven't heard any issues with any songs.

But I'm worried if there was some minor damage still.

If the sound is fine then it is O.K. You can test with a 20Hz tone, there should be no difference between L and R. Some headphones that are O.K. will have noise or 'ticking' sounds. Drivers rarely damage in the exact same way so when there are no obvious differences between L and R side you are probably O.K.
Highly depends on the model headphone. Some can almost be used as desktop speakers while others are destroyed by it.

I expect the Sundara (most hifiman and Audeze) to be able to take some electrical beating, certainly with music. I suspect 2W is not an issue.

Continuous power (noise, sine waves, sweeps) are more likely to cause damage than music as that consists mostly of peaks.
 
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Music1969

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I expect the Sundara (most hifiman and Audeze) to be able to take some electrical beating, certainly with music. I suspect 2W is not an issue.
This was a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC playing music (only 5 seconds) at 0dBFS

"Headphone output power : 6.6 mW / 600 Ohm; 68 mW / 32 Ohm"

So it was probably around that 68 mW figure for Sundara but less with music

Sundara is approx 90dB /mW so that would have been loud lol ?

I'll try the 20Hz tone test you suggested.

Thanks!
 

solderdude

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I would not bother. The S2 cannot blow up any planars. There cannot possibly be any damage.
When doing the 20Hz with this headphone amp the amp will very likely clip before you reach an audible level leading you to believe the Sundara may be damaged.
That simply is not possible with these power levels. At 68mW the Sundara will reach 111dB.
 
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Music1969

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I would not bother. The S2 cannot blow up any planars. There cannot possibly be any damage.
I played 20Hz tone (mono) with Sundara connected to SMSL SP400

100Hz, 80Hz, 60 Hz, 40 Hz - everything sounds 'centered' playing mono - no shift to either side, which is good.

25 Hz is not possible to hear anything lol

I'm using oratory's EQ which boosts the stock Sundara bass.
 

solderdude

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That's why the 20Hz tone. When you hear 'something' it should not be there but... the danger lies in giving it too much power.
Do not try this with IEMs and 20mW or 50mW headphones though !
Also try a 100Hz tone first (at loud volume, shortly) and then without changing the volume try the 20Hz.

The S2 is technically incapable of inflicting any damage to the Sundara.
 

Music1969

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Also try a 100Hz tone first (at loud volume, shortly) and then without changing the volume try the 20Hz.
Ok just did this and nothing at 20Hz - good sign

The S2 is technically incapable of inflicting any damage to the Sundara.

Thanks! With this info + the test, I won't bother returning Sundara.

I had problem with channel imbalance with HE400se and upgraded to Sundara and this has no such issues.

I don't want to return this Sundara for another which may have issues.
 

Music1969

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So I looked at Sundara 2020 measurements of Amir , Sean Olive, Crinacle, Oratory

And came up with the following EQ.

Feel free to give it a try.

An example - look at Amirm's measurements and his EQ. He doesn't eq 100-150Hz gap. And his peak at ~6kHz isn't on any others so I took that out.

Also oratory's EQ at 6.6kHz and 8.8kHz is too "exact" - maybe for his actual headphones it's correct but the autoEQ based on crinacle basically averages this region out, which I like and it still fits all other measurements.

Also didn't like how amir EQ's the critical region around 2kHz and above. AutoEQ crinacle and oratory did that region better (similar measurements), so I combined the best

Anyway here it is. It's basically to capture the main gist of all those above mentioned sources and eliminate the more peculiar EQ.

Can still follow oratory's recommended for more bass adjusting band #3 gain and more treble with band #7 gain

Preamp: -11.0 dB Filter 1: ON LSQ Fc 28 Hz Gain 6.00 dB Q 0.71 Filter 2: ON PK Fc 66 Hz Gain -0.80 dB Q 1.50 Filter 3: ON LSQ Fc 105 Hz Gain 5.50 dB Q 0.71 Filter 4: ON PK Fc 940 Hz Gain -1.0 dB Q 3.70 Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2250 Hz Gain 3.30 dB Q 1.40 Filter 6: ON PK Fc 6105 Hz Gain 2.2 dB Q 1.50 Filter 7: ON HSQ Fc 10000 Hz Gain 0.0 dB Q 0.71

1666185556415.png
 
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Music1969

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I suggest to also lower 10kHz by approx. 6dB.

fr-sund-2021.png


This 'smoothes' the treble.

I tried to make a simple 7 band EQ that would work across Amir, Sean Olive, oratory, crinacle measurements. And eliminating the filters that might be sample specific.

But all their measurements have a big dip at 10kHz in their measurements
 

solderdude

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Yes, that is because all those measurement fixtures have a dip there (compare all measurements of all headphones there) so that 'obscures' peaks there.
Those fixtures should not be used above 8kHz.
The peak is really there though. Give it a try and see how the treble looses some of the 'sharpness' or 'metal sheen'
 

Music1969

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Yes, that is because all those measurement fixtures have a dip there (compare all measurements of all headphones there) so that 'obscures' peaks there.
Those fixtures should not be used above 8kHz.
The peak is really there though. Give it a try and see how the treble looses some of the 'sharpness' or 'metal sheen'

Will give it a try. So add a peak filter at 10kHz -6dB gain - what Q value you recommend ?

Q = 3 ?
 
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solderdude

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I don't really know... I never use digital EQ.
 

Leiker535

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Will give it a try. So add a peak filter at 10kHz -6dB gain - what Q value you recommend ?

Q = 3 ?
Try using Crinacle's EQ function in his measurement tool to estimate that. That, a comparison between other 43C measurements, like Oratorys, and your own ears should land you on the sweetspot of EQing.

1666188826084.png


 

Music1969

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I suggest to also lower 10kHz by approx. 6dB.
6dB sounds quite different.

3dB down immediately does sound better for me.

I think my ear/brain needs to a couple weeks to get used to this 3dB drop first, before I attempt another 3dB drop

Burn-in of the ear/brain is real ! :D

Definitely a smoother experience , thanks for this tip

Preamp: -11.0 dB Filter 1: ON LSQ Fc 28 Hz Gain 6.00 dB Q 0.71 Filter 2: ON PK Fc 66 Hz Gain -0.80 dB Q 1.50 Filter 3: ON LSQ Fc 105 Hz Gain 5.50 dB Q 0.71 Filter 4: ON PK Fc 940 Hz Gain -1.0 dB Q 3.70 Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2250 Hz Gain 3.30 dB Q 1.40 Filter 6: ON PK Fc 6105 Hz Gain 2.2 dB Q 1.50 Filter 7: ON PK Fc 10000 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 4.00 Filter 8: ON HSQ Fc 10000 Hz Gain -1.0 dB Q 0.71
 
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Music1969

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@Music1969 I tried your EQ
Nice! Just a reminder it's based on trying to find something simpler that fits all of Amir's, Sean Olive's, Cirnacle's, Oratory's and Resolve's measurements as best as I could eye-ball. And now @solderdude 's too since others don't show any 10kHz peak.

I stayed away from any personal sound quality preferences

Like oratory recommends, use bands #3 and #8 to adjust bass and treble to taste (just change gain value)

I changed filter 7 Q to =4
 
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Music1969

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Hi @solderdude @Robbo99999

I measured my Sundara - this is with multiple re-seats and right channel has some funkiness between 8-10kHz

Based on this, would you return this pair if you had the option?

Or does this look normal?

There's 3 right channel measurements, each done with complete re-seating.

1666614007870.png
 
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