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  1. #1

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    Default Philips Fidelio X1 vs. Polk RTA-12

    Pictures are taken with the s***y camera on my phone. My apologies.

    Just a quick little shootout, nothing terribly extensive.

    Both the speakers and headphones are playing simultaneously which gave me the ability to directly compare. Switching back and forth took less then a second. As fast as you can put on the headphones and take them off.

    These comparisons are not noted at ear bleeding volumes. I'd say a little lower then "mid" volume and a little louder then a "low" volume. This was to be fair, honestly. The more power the RTA's get the more fantastic they sound and the more they fill the entire room with sound, both compared to the X1's and in general.

    RTA-12B's price paid - $225
    Fidelio X1's price paid - $295

    Setup
    FLAC > HDMI > Yamaha RX-V667 (DAC & Preamp) > Yamaha CA-1010 (Amp, Pure Class A < 20 watts) > Speaker taps for RTA-12's & 1/4" jack for X1's

    Laptop
    Asus X54C running Ubuntu 13.04
    Media player used is Rhythmbox

    Polk RTA-12B





    Philips Fidelio X1





    Depeche Mode "Enjoy the Silence"
    Right off the bat the first difference I notice is the RTA's have much better center imaging then the X1's. Mids are more "lifelike" in the RTA's as well. I keep hearing about the X1's mids being recessed. I'm not hearing this. Compared to the RTA's the mids in the X1's are forward. Especially in the upper end of the mids. The highs and mids kind of mash together on the X1's, in the RTA's the highs and mids are clearly defined and separate. Bass is surprisingly equal at the volume I was listening at.

    Frank Sinatra "I Get a Kick Out of You" & "Come Fly With Me"
    Center imaging is, well, center on both. The difference is on the RTA's Franks sounds like hes several feet in front of me and on the X1's it sounds like he's singing either right in front of my face or weirdly inside my head. Left and Right separation are further apart on the RTA's then the X1's. Instrument separation is again better on the RTA's. Again, the largest difference is the mids to upper mids are much more forward on the X1's. If you don't listen to the stereo first they sound fine, but if you go back and forth I believe this is the main cause of the RTA's sounding more realistic, IMO, then the X1's. When I first got the X1's and went back and forth between them and the Monoprice 8323 I thought the X1's sounded much more realistic. More on this later.

    Slayer "Playing With Dolls"
    Now this is a bit different of a story. The double kick bass drum is heard better on the X1's. Nearly as prominent as the rest of the drum kit. On the RTA's the bass drum is more in the background. Imaging is much less of an issue, as metal is a mashup of noise anyway. The more forward mids of the X1's shove the distorted guitars in your face instead of the relaxed sound of the RTA's. Tom's voice and Kerry's guitar are more mashed together on the X1's and quite separate sounding on RTA's.

    Conclusion
    Just wanted to do a quick and short shootout. Which do I like better? The Polks, by far. I will say, though, I have never had my ears on some *good* headphones. The X1's are still the best headphone I've ever heard and I am not trying to discredit them. I am very happy with my purchase and I would recommend them to anybody. If the difference between the $25 Monoprice 8323 and the $300 X1's are indication that the more you spend the more you get, I can't wait to hear a really good pair of headphones. For all I know, though, a better DAC might transform the X1's, or maybe they aren't a good fit for whatever resistor is hiding behind the 1/4" jack of the CA-1010 and running them off the speaker taps of an Emotiva Mini-X will transform them. I don't know, only spending more money and experimenting more will tell the final story. Might just be the X1's are decent headphones and I need to open my wallet further on a different pair of headphones to get the sound I'm *really* looking for. Also let it be noted that when I'm playing video games or watching movies, I adore the X1's. They just aren't what I'm looking for musically.
    |Fronts - Peerless RTA-12B | Center(s) - Peerless Monitor 5 | Rears - Peerless Monitor 4 |
    |Amp for fronts - Yamaha CA-1010 | Preamp (and amp for center/rears) - RX-V667 |
    |TV - Philips 46" Smart LED | Gaming - Xbox One - Xbox 360 | Headphones - Philips Fidelio X1 |

  2. #2

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    Default

    Nice write up. In most instances a direct comparison between a decent pair of cans and a "good" two channel set up will leave the h-phones wanting. That may be what you're hearing there. At least that's been my experience.

    There are of course multi-thousand dollar h-phone systems but most of us can't afford to go there.

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    There are of course multi-thousand dollar h-phone systems but most of us can't afford to go there.

    cnh
    That's the truth. I'm quite interested in going to one of these headphone meets one day and hearing for myself. I'm very much wondering if the sound I'm looking for doesn't exist in headphones.

    I checked all my personal preference boxes on these X1's. Open back, comfortable, a few db increase in the bass, slightly recessed mids, and for me I spend a decent amount of money. More then my mains, who here would do that?

    I do appreciate them when I'm still awake at 3AM, living in an apartment, but I honestly was hoping for a bit more. Could be my setup though. I'm sure the DAC in the RX-V667 is crap.
    Last edited by Nightfall; 09-17-2013 at 10:26 PM.
    |Fronts - Peerless RTA-12B | Center(s) - Peerless Monitor 5 | Rears - Peerless Monitor 4 |
    |Amp for fronts - Yamaha CA-1010 | Preamp (and amp for center/rears) - RX-V667 |
    |TV - Philips 46" Smart LED | Gaming - Xbox One - Xbox 360 | Headphones - Philips Fidelio X1 |

  4. #4

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    Not really a fair comparison IMO, you really need to get those cans on at least a decent headphone amp to get their best. They're not super picky about an amp, but do need decent power, even something like the Asgard 2 would be a huge improvement over the Yamaha.

    I would also highly recommend a replacement cable for that headphone, the stock cable isn't very good and holds them back. The Moon Audio Black Dragon is quite good.
    Last edited by AsSiMiLaTeD; 09-17-2013 at 10:50 PM.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I would also highly recommend a replacement cable for that headphone, the stock cable isn't very good and holds them back.
    I have that in the works. A member over at head-fi is making me a cable; Canare and Nuetrik. Nothing crazy but hopefully an improvement.

    As far as the Yamaha goes, it's hard to tell how much power it's putting out without opening the case and seeing the resistor value followed by some math. The 1/4" jack is run off the speaker amp, though, which people love the vintage CA-1010 and 2020. Class A until 20 watts. No way to find out without trying though and I suspect you're right.
    Last edited by Nightfall; 09-17-2013 at 10:53 PM.
    |Fronts - Peerless RTA-12B | Center(s) - Peerless Monitor 5 | Rears - Peerless Monitor 4 |
    |Amp for fronts - Yamaha CA-1010 | Preamp (and amp for center/rears) - RX-V667 |
    |TV - Philips 46" Smart LED | Gaming - Xbox One - Xbox 360 | Headphones - Philips Fidelio X1 |

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