Bandwidth and clarity (in regard to high frequencies) are the sacrifices you must be willing to accept for an across the board increase in bass. Sacrifices I’m not willing to make, but many bass heads are! If you are mainly listening to jazz, classical or even classic rock, I’d consider other these headphones (unless you have a bright system already). I say this because you would literally be missing out on some of the lower level details that are overshadowed by the prominence of bass in the above types of music (and others). By overshadowing the high frequency content, the EP6’s bass causes the sound stage to feel smaller. ANC mode can help to balance the bass in most scenarios, resulting in better clarity. For this reason I’m giving the bandwidth a better score than I would have before, especially weighing the strengths seen in gaming tests.
Bandwidth Score : 7.5/10
Clarity Score: 7/10
Bluetooth is a critical feature for these headphones, since wireless is both advertised heavily and a common feature requested by customers, especially for VR. Let me just say, you can’t make an audio device “for VR” unless it involves a lot more than just a pair of headphones on their own. The S1’s use Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX while the EP6 is also Bluetooth 4.0, but no aptX. I will admit the time spent on Bluetooth has not been as long as I have spent listening to the headphones hard wired. This is because I wanted to know the best quality the EP6s can produce, instead of having the ability to get up and walk away from the source device by 20 meters. I found that both the EP6 and S1 had good quality over Bluetooth 4.0, comparable to CD quality.
When I was actually using the BT mode on the EP6, the ANC mode seemed to be better more often than when compared to without it. I checked this using a few different types of material and all I tested seemed to indicate the same benefits by ANC, despite the occasional low-level distortion pop from tapping the headphone. I also preferred the ANC mode during the final testing sessions when using my wired connection, even in a war documentary where the bass is well used. Just give them both a shot and pick one, there are too many factors to definitively say that one is better than the other.
Bluetooth Overall Performance : 8/10
My (wired) signal chain includes XLR out of the ES9038Pro DAC (Sparkos op-amps) + Singxer SU-1 XMOS clone (for digital interface, which is DSD512 capable) into my S.M.S.L. sAp-10 fully balanced headphone amplifier (with both 1/4” and 4-pin XLR output options). The audio quality has been fantastic for such reasonably priced headphones. I could tell a clear difference between running the Burson Play v1.6 w/ stock 5532 and 5534 op-amps in comparison to the other discrete combo of hardware (given above) when listening to the EP6. This is what I hoped for, since there is an easily discernible difference between these two systems and both of the headphones reflect this source change in their outputs.
Wired Audio Performance: 8.5/10
Table of Contents
Opening Thoughts and Company Info
EP6 Spatial/Stereo Imaging and Tonal Balance
A Hard Look at Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Construction Quality
EP6 Bandwidth, Bluetooth & Wired Performance
EP6 Comfort, Distortion and Closing Remarks
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