Senta Forty (by C Crane) Stereo Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,608
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review: Senta Forty Wood Earcup Stereo Headphone review by Dale - YouTube

    Photo: http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Panasonic_Zs40/Headphone_Senta_Forty_01.jpg

    Sources: iPhone5 with PA2V2/FiiO E07k/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using the Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

    Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Senta40 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M80 and M100, the Beyerdynamic DT1350 and T51p, the FAD Pandora IV and VI, and notes I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I describe how I relate to the Senta40 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues. NOTE: If you're opposed to using EQ with headphones, this review is not for you, since it is based entirely on equalizing the Senta40 to obtain a near-hi-fi sound. Photos and an EQ chart are at the links here, or on my dalethorn site.

    My first impression of the Senta40 is muffled sound. An emphasized bass alone, or a slightly recessed treble alone might be workable, but the combination of those two issues reduces the clarity and details, and most importantly the proper musical tonality, to the point that there is no longer an authentic musical experience. The Senta Forty's originator (C Crane) is in the business of selling radios mostly, and reading some of those reviews I noted that users occasionally complained that the stereo FM reproduction was substandard. Using the Senta40 with those radios, their impressions would be understandable. In any case, there would be no point in reviewing a muffled headphone unless I could fix the sound somehow, and the Audioforge Parametric Equalizer I use now does that. Since this review is EQ-dependent, all of the following comments including the music track impressions here are based on my Senta40 EQ settings.

    Some concerns I have with low-cost/low-fi headphones are inconsistencies in matching the sound between the left and right drivers, and matching the sound between different production samples of the same headphone. When there are inconsistencies, a customer may experience a very different sound than what they were expecting based on reviews they've read. Also when using large amounts of EQ to restore a near-hi-fi sound quality (if that's actually possible), there's a danger of creating large narrow peaks and recesses at frequencies adjacent to the EQ sliders. With Audioforge, I've become confident that the correction curves it generates are smooth enough to minimize those and other related issues. There are cases where I finish an EQ and the headphone still doesn't sound right, so I start over from scratch. In most cases the second or third attempt is successful - if not I just give up and try another headphone.

    The Senta40 is mostly plastic except for the wood earcups and a thin metal reinforcing strip in the headband. The finish looks good and the on-ear fit is comfortable due to soft earpads and the light headband clamp. Earcup rotation is 90 degrees one direction and 45 degrees the other direction. Vertical rotation is 180 degrees, so from the earcup rotations I'd expect the Senta40 to fit nearly any head. However, my average-size head fits with the earcups pulled out just 9 mm, and the maximum extension is just 21 mm, so the range of head sizes that this headphone can accomodate is going to be limited. The cable is double-entry, detachable, with 2.5 mm mono plugs going into each earcup, and terminated by a standard 3.5 mm miniplug with no controls or microphone. The cable has a very nice fabric covering and looks very durable. The earpads are covered in a quality plastic or pleather, which feels comfortable and should last a long time. A 6.35 mm adapter and a soft zippered fabric carry case are included.

    The comments in the music tracks listed in this review can be compared to other headphone reviews I've done, to get an idea of how the Senta40 plays the different music tracks listed here compared to other headphones. My suggestion is instead of reading each comment below as an absolute unto itself, you could compare these notes to other reviews as they get posted, and see how the Senta40 compares with each individual track.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,608
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Senta Forty review part 2 - music tracks.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone with a modest weight, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Senta40 plays this very well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the Senta40.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the Senta40.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The Senta40 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the Senta40.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The Senta40 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Senta40 reproduces the space and detail convincingly.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Senta40 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Senta40 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are detailed but not sharp or edgy.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent and the tambourine sound has better than average tonality.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The Senta40 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The Senta40 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates a good deep-bass response. Overall, the Senta40 plays this music very well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has very good detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Senta40 plays this track pretty well.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the Senta40. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Human League - Keep Feeling Fascination (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's bass line is very detailed, but the somewhat forward voices don't have quite the "you are there" quality of the Heaven 17 track noted above.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The Senta40 provides reasonably good detail. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Senta40 does those fairly well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The Senta40 plays this very well.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2014, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the Senta40 is an excellent example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but appreciable with the Senta40.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Senta40 reproduces those sounds very well.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The Senta40 conveys that experience in a subtle but convincing way. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the Senta40 renders the tones and transients fairly well.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are quite strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The Senta40 delivers the impacts with proper weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.

    William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string tones beginning at 0:18 are fairly soft, and while the bass isn't very deep, it still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, works very well with this track.
     

Share This Page