With a passion that has brought the Canadian Snap halfway across the world, made him walk away from a lucrative career in IT as a Network Engineer, left working the kitchens as a chef, and put out some seriously un-compramised music on his own label you know music is a high priority. Get in a conversation with the Canadian Snap and you will likely will learn how deep an serious he takes sound quality and how much he hates subjective audiophool crap.
In the studio and in the Snap House there is some serious bits of gear and speakers in rooms tuned to get the most out of the sound experience. But what is a Snap to do when on the road, in bed trying to go on a musical journey, or perhaps in the office? Well after a lot of searching, many discussion, and testing there is a few key pieces that the Snaps feel should be mentioned and shown for you to enjoy and realize the full potential of recorded music. With out trying to get to subjective and further ado:
Power is nothing with out control, and it always starts at the source:
With so much misinformation in the Audiophile community, or perhaps we shall say Audiophool community that plays off the ignorance of many, and the many who do not want to adhere to basic physics of how electricity works, it gets down right frustrating. Although I do not want to get into it as its almost at a cult society it was refreshing to see NWAVGUY appear. Not only did this fella come across and dispute some other manufacturers claims, but he was banned from some message boards for upsetting the balance against the one who perpetuated the lies by standing up with real measurements. In some cases some equipment not only measured terribly but it was down-right dangerous for the headphone it was to drive. Lest we forget the some of the gear in question cost in the thousands of dollars.
The ODAC (Objective Digital Audio Convertor) may look simple but when hooked up via USB to your computer it can playback very accurate sound. As seen in the pictures our second version was purchased from headnhifi.com with RCA connectors. It has replaced a unit costing multiple times its price due to being more revealing and accurate. It is capable of 24bit sound and up to 96KHz for the higher resolution formats, and redbook specifications for CD quality are easily reached. I will disperse with this sounds good as your opinion may very, but it plays back accurately. If you go the DIY route it can be a downright bargain.
The Objective Headphone Amplifier may perhaps be the more important part of this combo which was purchased from JDS Labs. An analogy as that may (sort-of) fit is to think of a typical car versus a high-end sports car with a tuned suspension. If you have been driving a cheaper car you may find that doing things like going around corners a challenge and not something you would like to undertake on 1000 meter drop in say the South of France. Also top end speed and how fast you get there then stop also will be challenged as compared to an F1 car. So in short and what has often been described as the amplifier is to the engine analogy is only part of the story as it ignores the fact the amplifier controls the way the headphone will react also like a suspension. Hope that comes across clear? Basically a well designed headphone amplifier may help your headphone achieve their optimal performance and often a neglected step for the user where the headphone is running out of control. In worst cases it can damage your headphones and more often than not it is missing the details of the actual drive. Some people prefer to gloss over all the details of the roads, but make no mistake that is not accuracy when talking about what is recorded or being monitored.
Often the Snap’s are fighting for our reference headphones. Although the Sennheiser HD-800s are anything but cheap, and in many cases more than some people have paid for their whole sound system they have given the Snap’s the greatest experience and window into the sound. With room acoustics often being the largest problem in sound listening. and reference speakers costing tens of thousands of dollars, yet alone the neighbours not always sharing your taste in music this has proved a great value. Skip a few weekend out drinking, and dinning and you have a tool for many years to come. With out a question if you really want to know what is in a recording then the HD800s are this tool.
Usually when going to bed the Canadian Snap likes to listen to music. With a relaxed state of mind this often proves a great place to check mixes, learn from other music, or just relax before falling asleep. Problem though comes with the HD800s being an open back design which means they send the sound of the drivers equally to the ears and out in the air. For a German Snap trying to sleep this does not work so well as she will be hearing the same music, but in a more annoying small way.
The sonic benefits of a well designed open back headphone have been discussed to great length across the internet forums and explained better than I can do so I will leave that for those who are interested to search out. Of course though one big advantage to most closed headphones is the isolation and why the AKG K550 are the other Snap headphones.
With a more reasonable price tag the AKG phones are an easy pair of cans to drive from a portable device. Far more so than the Sennheiser HD800s but they do their best with better control. They are also very revealing of what is being played and also great for referencing. There is a but though as they need to get a good seal on your ears. Some people have reported the bass can sound thin, and I also found this to be true which makes them a bit sensitive to placement and fitting. Get it right though and they are also a great windows into sound and not far behind the HD800s. These are the Canadian Snap’s go to headphones for work, and travel due to the ability to fold, easy load to drive and a worth while look at if you are looking for new headphones that fit into my description.
Wrapping up this bit of kit is basically a great little system the Snap’s have been using to have great music experiences. The combinations shown here are what we keep going back to on a daily basis and we feel a great bit of information to share. Taste of course is subjective but with so many pro products costing several thousands of dollars and great music all around of us there is no point in getting caught up in what one can not have. Add in guys like NWAVGUY bringing forward his creation so that the average user does not have to be suckered into audio scams and get reference sound then the world starts to sound just a bit better.