The midrange is where the magic happens. This category will probably be home to the most controversial results in this article. I’m going to be extremely picky in this one, as for me the midrange is essential for high-end, being something that truly makes high-end “special”. For a headphone to be super detailed is a challenge, but to be super detailed and natural, rich-sounding at the same time is something that really makes these headphones Summit-Fi.
This is brutal. I can’t give the CZ-1 even a single point, simply because its midrange performance is just terrible. Peaks and dips all over the place, echoey, boxy, plasticky, tonally inaccurate, and just ridiculously weird. I really don’t want to keep demolishing this little guy, but headphones costing 5% of their price offer better, more natural, and tonally accurate midrange performance.
I’m a big fan of the original HD800. I actually owned them 5 times, and I’m kind of a local legend who got to know the HD800 as much as it’s simply possible. The HD8xx is not the original though, and it shows the most in the midrange performance. I really, really like DROP, for me this is a great company doing some absolutely fantastic things for the audio community. Unfortunately, they wanted to tweak the HD800 too much and its midrange performance is just underwhelming. The frequency response in the mid region is just weird, unnaturally recessed, and lacking in definition.
As I stated a few times already, the Diana Phi sounds very extreme and aggressive, and it just doesn’t work with midrange. It sounds artificial, forced, and tiring, definitely not worth being called Summit-Fi. This is by far the biggest problem of this headphone, resulting in an unnatural and somewhat cheap timbre, which is unacceptable for a headphone costing that much.
The HEDDphone has a very unique midrange presentation. It’s pretty warm and dark, but it still offers an immense amount of details, which is quite unusual. It won’t score higher simply because it is slightly veiled when compared to the absolute top, but thanks to its unique flavor it is one of the most interesting sounding headphones on the market, in a good way.
These two continue to trade blows. The midrange presentation in both is actually pretty similar. Amazing detail retrieval, resolution, neutral tune and a slight emphasis on the upper-midrange. Both are excellent in many music genres, but that highly technical sound together with a slight peak around higher-midrange makes them not the best for poor masterings. Almost perfect, but not quite yet.
Meze Elite goes the opposite way than the two above. Its biggest strength is its lovely tune and beautiful vocal performance, making for one of the most romantic-sounding headphones on the market. The Elite is an easy-listening type of experience and it’s just great at that. The amount of body, note thickness, natural warmth, and smoothness in the entire mid section is just intoxicating, making for one of the most beautiful midrange performances I’ve heard.
You all saw that coming, didn’t you? The Hifiman Susvara is the king of midrange, master of timbre, and god of detail, and it’s all happening in the midrange region. This is the most detailed yet the most natural-sounding headphone I’ve ever heard and I would have rated it even higher if I could have. This midrange is just as smooth and musical as the one of the Meze Elite, but it’s just in a completely different league when it comes to detail retrieval and resolution. Just perfect.
Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Contenders
Page 3: Presentation
Page 4: Build Quality & Comfort
Page 5: Tone
Page 6: Detail
Page 7: Soundstage
Page 8: Bass
Page 9: Midrange
Page 10: Treble
Page 11: Musicality
Page 12: Value
Page 13: Results
Woww….What an amazing comparison.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much Ruff! 🙂 Enjoy the content!
Great review! Pitty so many are missing – LCD-5, CRBN, DCA Stealth, Staxxes, Utopia, T+A Solitaire…
Yeah, but I’ll get all of them eventually and will constantly update this 😀
Thank you again and enjoy your time here.
Great idea, well executed, but one small item please. Why not use the real Sennheiser HD800S as it is a headphone that many folks in the headphone community know and love (or hate) but at least it is a widely known data point. The Drop is comparatively unknown and had a lot of poor reviews due to the many variations in tuning. This has ruined your hard work and effort, sorry.
Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate all the feedback 🙂
While I definitely wouldn’t call that it “ruined” the hard work, I might get the 800S eventually to include it in the comparison as well. The more, the better. The 8XX is a rather fresh release and I’ve got it here, so it was natural for me to include it and see how it scores.
Thank you for your feedback and hopefully I’ll be able to get the 800S in the future. Enjoy your time here 🙂
This is one hell of a comparison of top and upermost earphones around. Keep up the highest mountines of our ears Pawel!
Thank you Kris, I’m glad you like it! I’ve mentioned this article so many times to you that there was quite an expectation I believe haha 😀
It was a refreshing read of a comparison. I was in the market to see if I wanted to get one of the headphones you compared here and your article just made the decision for me! Keep up the great work and looking forward to future updates on this summit-fi shootout!
Thank you very much Kelvin, this really means a lot to me!
I’m glad it helped you with your decision. What headphone did you choose in the end?
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