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Joined: Nov 2015
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Marc345 Offline OP
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Is anyone using those headphones with the MP11SE headphone output? I'm getting a distorted bass if I dial in a somewhat average and decent volume. Just wondering if I need a separate headphone amp for thas combination. The issue exists on both sides and is specific to this set of headphones for me. Cheap stuff like Superlix HD681 have no issues.


HW: MP11SE, Touche SE (+Arturia Keylab Ess. 88, Akai MPK249, in reserve: GEM Promega 3)
SW: Garritan CFX, Ravenscroft 275, Modern U, Noire, Absolute 5, Acousticsamples B5
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I've used this combination for years without issue. I bought a cheap headphone amp (Fulla Schiit 2) expecting to need it and I just don't, so I don't use it.

Not much else I can say -

cheers,

Jack


Kawai MP11SE | K&M 18950 | Pianoteq Pro (Bleuthner, Steingraeber, Petrof, Bechstein, Steinway B & D, Electric Pianos, K) | Sennheiser HD600 | Sony WH-1000XM3 (using wired) for noise isolation
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Marc345 Offline OP
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I guess I'll try a Schiit amp, though they are out of stock atm. I fear there may be some hidden corrosion due to bad storage conditions (no moisture absorbers), though I didn't detect anything in particular. I stored them in their original package, which shouldn't be airtight. It's just a bit strange that the observed effect is on both ears. So if it's not a general corrosion or similar issue, it must be the missing amp.


HW: MP11SE, Touche SE (+Arturia Keylab Ess. 88, Akai MPK249, in reserve: GEM Promega 3)
SW: Garritan CFX, Ravenscroft 275, Modern U, Noire, Absolute 5, Acousticsamples B5
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Are the phones new ? Almost all pairs need somewhat of a burn in period. My HD-650s took about three days of hooked up to a classical music station for 24 hours a day.

There was no initial distortion though, it just made the sound stage bloom more. Perhaps they are defective.

With my 650s and five different keyboards now - Yamaha CP5, CP4, P-515, CP88 and AvantGrand- I've never had the need for a headphone amp.


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I have used HD600 with MP11 for many years without amp, no problem.

What kind of distortion do you mean?

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If you're getting a pronounced buzz or rattle in your HD600 specifically, which you hear as distortion on loud passages, but all your other headphones tested sound 100% okay, at similar high volumes from the same exact setup, then maybe your actual HD600 are damaged, torn diaphragm, broken or something? Better inspect them carefully. Do they buzz from other audio sources too elsewhere?
But assuming the headphones are not broken...

The stock HD600 headphone has a fairly bright overall balance, and sounds a bit thin in the low bass end. Being an open back design with very lightweight sponge earpads which leak away the air pressure, you'll probably never be 100% satisfied with deep bass reproduction on these headphones. Some other headphone technologies such as planar magnetic designs like Audeze can offer much more solid low bass response. Companies like Monolith make some decent budget planar magnetics.

However, to address the Sennheiser HD600 problem, you might find some satisfaction in these sheepskin leather aftermarket ear-cushions, which help contain the air pressure (not leaking so much like the stock sponge) and swapping to these will give you a much fuller, warmer bass response from the HD600. I have these on my own HD600 and I love them better now. Highly recommended. You can easily revert and swap back to the stock cushions again, it's not any permanent modification.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07G5X8YD9

Regarding the Kawai piano sound, this too is lacking in very deep low bass. If you play keys while watching audio response on a high res RTA type graph or realtime FFT display, you can literally see the lowest fundamentals below about G#1 go missing, and may have been deliberately HPF filtered out by Kawai in their inherent samples, perhaps because the "stage piano" intended use assumes average PA speakers can't reproduce much below 35Hz so they remove the deepest fundamentals, thus enabling them to increase headroom and dynamic range elsewhere. Years ago, I read that Kawai were also employing Waves MaxxBass processing for a similar purpose into their factory piano samples. That seems true from the evidence of the output
So again, if you play the stock Kawai patches, you probably never be 100% satisfied with the deep bass reproduction of the piano sample. You could try layering it with something else, over the affected key range, on another layer, if you can find a suitable low bass / sinewave like sound with a piano like ADSR envelope. I used a jazz guitar patch on my MP8 which worked great, although the MP11 doesn't have anywhere near the range of other sounds that the MP8 does to choose from.

It sounds to me like you're probably boosting your Kawai's 4 band bass EQ up quite a lot, and playing the headphones quite loud too. That's quite a crude global EQ. Maybe you're clipping the Kawai's internal D/A converter on fortissimo peaks. Try recording the XLR output on your settings and see if the MP11 itself is clipping internally via its D/A with your EQ boosts applied. If so, then you can't really blame the HD600 headphones, per se, for reproducing that D/A distorted signal your feeding into them - although it's probably the headphone's lack of deep bass that is causing your desire to push the Kawai EQ bass boost up louder. A viscous circle.

You could maybe try running the Kawai XLR outputs externally into a pro mixing desk or external headphone amplifier and see if the distortion is still there, through that headphone output instead. But personally I think the Kawai MP series headphone preamp goes plenty loud enough, and obviously has high milliwatt power output. I don't think that's where the problem is.

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Marc345 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
Are the phones new ?

No. 10+ years old. Maybe 15.


Originally Posted by propianist
Some other headphone technologies such as planar magnetic designs like Audeze can offer much more solid low bass response. Companies like Monolith make some decent budget planar magnetics.

Can you recommend any models?

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I have used HD600 with MP11 for many years without amp, no problem.

What kind of distortion do you mean?

Like something is loose. A rattling diaphragm or similar. However, it's the same on both sides. How old is your MP11? Is it the MP11SE? Maybe Kawai "optimized" the headphone amp in the meantime.

Last edited by Marc345; 12/08/21 07:04 PM.

HW: MP11SE, Touche SE (+Arturia Keylab Ess. 88, Akai MPK249, in reserve: GEM Promega 3)
SW: Garritan CFX, Ravenscroft 275, Modern U, Noire, Absolute 5, Acousticsamples B5
Pics: https://imgur.com/a/GZgdFm3
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Originally Posted by Marc345
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I have used HD600 with MP11 for many years without amp, no problem.

What kind of distortion do you mean?

Like something is loose. A rattling diaphragm or similar. However, it's the same on both sides. How old is your MP11? Is it the MP11SE? Maybe Kawai "optimized" the headphone amp in the meantime.
I think I bought my MP11 in 2015 or 2016. In fact I later tried MP11SE in a shop with my phones, too, no problem was apparent either.

Have you set the piano volume to maximum and overall volume to average? Try doing otherwise.

In case there is something not ok with your phones or the cable, you may also try to lower low frequencies by using MP11SE built-in equalizer.


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