Nighthawk Stereo Headphone
Sources: iPhone6+ with Oppo HA-2/Beyer A200p DAC/amps, various computers using the HRT Microstreamer/Audioquest Dragonfly/FiiO E17k/FiiO E07k DAC/amps.
How to describe the sound of the Audioquest Nighthawk? The term liquid comes to mind, as a smoothness that’s like water on a plate. As I’ve been listening the past few days I thought “This is like listening to average solid-state amps for years, and then hearing a highly-regarded tube amp for the first time.” That’s an imperfect analogy, since I’m dealing with the complexities of sound, and audiophile sound at that.
There are aspects of audiophile sound that fall into a hierarchy of sorts – frequency response, balance, signature – those three terms describe the thing that’s most obvious to beginners and advanced users alike. There are theories and there are preferences. My personal take says that the Nighthawk is both warmer and softer (less harsh) than the classic hi-fi flagships from Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic, to name some examples. But that’s also my impression of good tube sound, so the question then is “How much does the Nighthawk actually differ from those ‘flagship’ headphones?”
D3 DAC-plus-Headphone-Amp – guest review by Dale Thorn
Sources and gear: Dell PC with Win7-64 and Foobar2000; MacBook Pro Retina with OSX v10.8.5 and iTunes; Shure SRH-1540, B&W P7, and B&O H6 headphones; various music tracks in 96k/24-bit WAV format.
When the Audioengine D3 DAC arrived, I ran it for a few hours just to keep it honest, although I didn’t expect a significant change with a burn-in period. When I finally got around to listening later that evening, I thought the sound was as good as anything I’ve ever heard. In fact, having spent a great deal of time with the HRT Microstreamer and v-moda Verza recently, the first thing that I became aware of was an impression of analog-like sound.
I must admit it, I am a big cynic. I have seen so many advertising and marketing claims about self-proclaimed great products that turn out to be just outright lies and misrepresentations, I have a hard time believing such pitches any more. So when HRT (High Resolution Technologies, Los Angeles, CA.) talked about their iStreamer at the last Macworld | iWorld conference, I just rolled my eyes in disbelief.
I connect my iPhone and iPodTouch to my rather high-end audio system all the time with a simple headphone jack to RCA stereo cable, and for the most part, it sounds fine. Yet, here was this company telling me that I was not getting the full experience of my music from my iOS device. Really? Just how so? So when I was given the chance to borrow an iStreamer unit and test it, I jumped at the chance. I was ready to prove them wrong.
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