Today, we will take a first look at SPIRIT Torino Headphones. All Spirit Torino Headphones are designed and entirely handcrafted in Italy.
This article will primarily discuss how the four headphones sent to us from SPIRIT Torino for review compare in terms of build quality, comfort, design, and sound quality.
If you are interested in hearing my full review of the SPIRIT Torino headphones, as always we encourage you to check out our YouTube channel. Watch our most recent video on the SPIRIT Tornio headphones.
We will also discuss who SPIRIT Torino is and their history in the HiFi Audio world.
Let’s get started!
In 1993 Andrea Ricci, the founder of SPIRIT Torino, began collaborating with Turin High Fidelity Stores. 2 years later, the SPIRIT brand came to life building HiFi equipment wood furniture working with mahogany and walnut.
Andrea began field recording in 1996, which soon led to him working with Italian TV National Symphony Orchestra as an audio technician and sound engineer for Turin’s Opera house. After many collaborations with musicians and music associations in the music and HiFi audio world over the next decade, Andrea began modifying closed and open commercial headphones in 2007.
After modding and working with commercial headphones for another decade, Ricci assembled the first Twin Pulse Headphones prototype in 2017, which became the world’s first isobaric headphone motor unit.
From that momentous achievement in 2017, the SPIRIT Torino brand has grown, offering around 13 headphone models, all handmade and designed in Italy.
Build and Design Quality
Today we will first look at the Super Leggera, as seen in red; the Titano, as seen in grey; the Radiante, as seen in blue; and lastly, the Mistral Pro with blue wood cups.
Starting first with the Super Leggera, a headphone, according to SPIRIT Torino, that has found a home for many individuals working in radio broadcasting, performing live, or in the recording studio as a post-production monitor.
The Super Leggera is an open-back headphone using the Mono Drive Spirit System, with a single high-resolution dynamic driver per side with a 32ohm impedance and an FR of 40-28,000 hz. The headphones use Leather Alcantara ventilated pads with a weight of about 365 grams.
In addition to the headphones, the Super Leggera includes one detachable cable by Portento Audio, offered in multiple terminations. All the headphones in this article use a 3.5mm connection to the headphones, so for those with high-end cables in this design, you shouldn’t have an issue with using your aftermarket cables with these SPIRIT Torino Headphones.
The marriage of a retro headphone style and the modern comfort of Dekoni ear pads make the Super Leggera pretty comfortable. I like the aluminum metal cups and metal grills of the headphones.
At first look, many will see similarities between the visual design of these headphones and the Grado GS Series headphones. However, on first look and listen, the Super Leggera use premium materials with solid metal cups, detachable cables, and more padding on the headband, giving them a more luxurious look and feel.
They do use a gravity-based rod system for the cups, which will be a nit-pick I have with a few of the headphones in this article and would love to see a little more refinement of the rods allowing for a notched system for better stabilization, like what you see on Audeze or ZMF headphones.
Overall, I found the Super Leggera to be comfortable; however, if you have large ears, you may find the pads feeling a little cramped. For small to medium-sized ears, most users should be good to go.
Looking next at the Titano, which uses the Mono Drive Spirit System, composed of a high-resolution dynamic driver per side with a 32-ohm impedance and an FR of 18- 39,000 Hz. The Semi-Closed headphones weigh around 440 grams and use Leather Alcantara pads with the Ventilation Pad System.
Being semi-closed, they do allow some sound in and out; however, they also have the advantage of allowing for a bit more spacious sound than a fully closed back, with some of the benefits of a closed-back headphone leaking less music out than a fully open headphone and allowing less noise in.
The soft padded leather-wrapped headband feels comfortable, and the pads feel a bit roomier and more comfortable than the Super Leggera headphones. They are a bit heavier; however, the solid metal cups feel even more substantial and well-built, with the slightly more weight of the headphones being a non-issue for me.
Looking next at the RADIANTE fully closed-back headphones using solid-milled aluminum metal cups and custom Leather Alcantara Dekoni ear pads. The Radiante is the first closed-back headphone from SPIRIT Torino. It allows a listener to have better isolation from the outside world than their fully open or partially open-back designs.
The headphones inside use Dynamat dampening and other anti-reflective materials to help deal with vibrations generated by the drivers. The RADIANTE uses a single per-side high-resolution dynamic driver with a passive radiator to regulate the pressure inside the closed chamber.
In addition, an acoustically filtered duct is used in the chamber of the pads to prevent pressure on the eardrum. The 32-ohm headphones have an FR of 18-32,000 Hz, weigh around 370 grams, and include a 2.2-meter detachable cable from Portento Audio.
I found the RADIANTE to have a similar comfort to the pads and the headband as the Titano but with less weight.
Lastly, we come to the Mistral Pro, the only headphone in this article that uses multi-layered wood for the cups allowing for the lightest weight of the headphones, around 300 grams. The blue cups of the Mistral Pro are made of birch and mahogany wood.
The Mistral Pro are semi-closed headphones with the Mono Drive Spirit System using a single high-resolution driver per side and the ventilation pad system with Alcantara pads and a soft leather floating headband system. The headphones have an impedance of 32 ohms, a sensitivity of 96db, the only headphones I could find the sensitivity for in this article, and an FR of 20-28,000 Hz.
The headband system is comfortable, and their lightweight design makes these headphones one of the more comfortable to wear of the four headphones. My only nitpick with the headband and metal that attaches to the wood cups on the Mistral Pro is the metal edges of the headband, and the adjustment arms have a bit of an edge.
It's not a huge deal, but I would love to see these edges taken down a bit so they are softer to the touch. Softening the adjustment arms a bit may also allow for a smoother experience when adjusting the arms.
The build quality of the Mistral Pro doesn’t feel as substantial as the other headphones in the article; however, the Mistral Pro is also an entry-level headphone currently from SPIRIT Torino at the time of making this article.
I didn’t find any of the headphones challenging to drive. I primarily used my Chord Hugo TT2 and the McIntosh MHA 200 tube amplifier fed by the TT2 as its DAC on filter two to formulate my sound impressions via Qobuz and Tidal for this first-look article.
So, let's get into my favorite part of the article how do these headphones compare from a sound perspective? I listened to many genres of music across several of my playlists, and there were a few things I noticed about the house sound of these SPIRIT Torino headphones.
They all have a lively sound with good punch and dynamics. This creates an exciting listening experience that is enjoyable with many genres of music. So let’s get into a bit more detail about each of the headphones.
Starting with the entry-level headphones from SPIRIT Torino when making this article, The Mistral Pro has a detailed, dynamic, open sound with good layering and imaging. Listening to Motherboard from Daft Punk, I can quickly get a good sense of placement and imaging with the headphones.
The bass is punchy but is also the closest sounding to neutral of all the headphones in this article. In addition, their semi-closed design allows for an airy and open soundstage and a relatively balanced quality of sound that doesn’t pull me too far in any one direction.
The treble has nice air and sparkle without sounding bright or fatiguing. The midrange is detailed and fast sounding. Listening to Friend of the Devil by the Grateful dead and the strings sound natural with the appropriate body and texture to their sound.
Jerry Garcia’s vocals sound present with good placement center stage, not positioned too intimately on the stage. Overall the headphones are very enjoyable to listen to, with a good balance to their sound.
Listening next to the Super Leggera, a more intimate-sounding headphone with greater warmth and bass presentation than the Mistral Pro. Where the Mistral Pro sounded more neutral and open, the Super Leggera trades this sound for color, with more body to the bass and mid-bass, allowing for a dynamic, punchy sound that adds some warmth to vocals.
Vocals also have a bit more edge to their shape with what sounds like a bit more upper mid-range bite than the Mistral Pro. This upper midrange presence balances reasonably well with the elevated above-neutral bass but can present some vocals a bit harder-edged depending on the singer with the TT2. The treble takes a bit of a back seat to the more prominent sounding midrange and bass regions with a little darker character than the Mistral Pro.
There is still plenty of treble energy to allow for snare drums, high hats, and splashes of cymbals to be represented well on songs like Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. The guitar strings, drums, and vocals are the stars of the show, though, when listening to the exciting, lively, and dynamic sound of the Super Leggera.
Listening next to the Titano, that upper mid-range bite for vocals is pulled back. The bass still sounds elevated above neutral and not quite as immediate sounding as the Supper Leggera. Listening to Love by Lana Del Rey and her vocals are presented beautifully by the Titano with a sweeter decay and shape than that of the Super Leggera.
Stevie’s vocals on Dreams by Fleetwood Mac sound a bit more distant than the Super Leggera and the high-hat and cymbals, along with the drums, sound a bit more prominent on the soundstage.
It sounds like there may be a bit of a dip in the mid-range compared to the other two headphones, specifically when it comes to vocals which may be something a user may want to address with tone control or EQ to bring a bit more presence to vocals depending on your audio chain at home and of course how the song was produced.
The headphones present macro and micro detail reasonably well with good imaging. Listening to Fear Inoculum by Tool and swapping mid-song to the MHA200, I am immediately struck by how much better the Titano sounds off the MHA200 vs. running straight out of the Chord TT2. The stage presents more depth, and the imaging becomes more holographic. The vocals also have more presence that I felt was missing a bit before, with great slam and impact from the drums and kick drums.
Going back and listening to Friend of the Devil and Jerry’s vocals immediately have more presence from the McIntosh MHA200 filling in the dip I was hearing, which re-affirms the upper mid-range signature the MHA200 possess with their stock tubes making the Titano and the McIntosh an enjoyable pairing.
This is why system synergy and matching are so important, folks. One set of headphones driven by one amp vs. another amp can give you two unique experiences and sound signatures. This is why in every article, we always encourage you to get out to your local dealers and listen to all the products we discuss for yourself with the gear you own or plan on owning to find the right system match.
With that said, pairing the Super Leggera headphones we looked at before with the MHA200 was the exact opposite for my preferences and that pairing presented too much upper midrange for my tastes. Those headphones would be better served with an amplifier and or a DAC that is more relaxed in this region.
Listening to the Titano with the MHA200 and Blinding Lights from the Weekend is a slamtastic good time with hard-hitting punchy bass, present well-defined intimate vocals, and sparkly chill-inducing synths!
Listening next to the Radiante Headphones, the only fully closed headphones in this article. The Weekend's vocals are pulled back on the sound stage on Blinding lights; the bass still hits hard with plenty of rumble; however, the synths have a bit less sparkle.
It sounds like the midrange has a dip specifically for the vocals, with Jerry’s and Stevie's vocals on Friend of the Devil and Dreams sounding distant and overtaken by the strings, cymbals, and drums.
Even when paired with MHA200 for my preferences, I would want to play with tone control or EQ to bring more presence to the vocals.
This dip does give a perception of a larger and deeper soundstage, which was likely a deliberate choice to help the soundstage of the fully closed-back headphones. This is often why I prefer open-back or semi-closed headphones, as there generally isn’t this type of compromise that needs to be made.
This is also why tone control and EQ exist so as listeners; we can find the best quality of sound for our preferences. After listening for a while, your ears will also adjust to the signature of the Radiante, and their signature works well with songs like Love by Lana Del Rey, which positions her vocals a bit more forward on the production with deep hard, hitting bass.
For a closed-back headphone, the Radiante does a good job presenting a deeper and broader stage than other closed-back headphones I have heard, and when listening to Lingus by Snarky Puppy, I can place all the instruments on this badass track.
Swapping from the TT2 to the MHA200 for amplification brings more authority to the brass, bass guitar, and cymbals and a better overall listening experience with the Radiante than straight out of the TT2.
Vacuum tubes are life; for those still tube curious, come over to the dark side as the Spirit Torino
Headphones in this article come to life with a bit of tube magic. I was also impressed at how well the Radiante’s pressure distribution system works when listening. I didn’t experience listening fatigue with their closed-back design, which isn’t always the case with other closed-back headphones; bravo!
I also think it is pretty cool that SPIRIT Torino is committed to being different by utilizing a listening committee during live recordings that compare the live performance immediately with the reproduction in their headphones.
Listening to live music, I could hear their passion and SPIRIT of this process, especially when amplified by a tube amplifier. Live jazz, orchestral, and rock genuinely give you a sense of being there live as the concert is happening.
All of us from TSAV want to thank the SPIRIT Torino Family for sending their fantastic listening instruments out to us. I have a good feeling we will be hearing more about SPIRIT Torino Headphones on our channel soon.
If you are interested in trading up your old headphones or other gently used audio gear for a new set of headphones, check out ourtrade-up program, and don’t forget we will price match, other authorized dealers!
Ciao ragazzi alla prossima; and remember, let the music be your guide!