Oh my! Wmcmanus is right!
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus
My absolute favorite way of listening to the K1000's is to use them as an integral part of my 2 channel speaker listening experience....
Read Wmcmanus' post and I thought this guys was nuts.
I was highly doubtful if this the sound of K1000 and the speakers could integrate seamlessly. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot in my system.
The result is simply amazing, to the point that it totally trasnformed my conception of headphone listening.
My approach was different from Wmcmacus. My speaker system is decent but not top-notch. K1000 offers better clarity and timbre accuracy. So I use K1000 to provide the main sound (70%), and let speakers fill in the ambience. The presentation is still right around my head, but there is a lot
of additional ambience which is uncharacteristic of headphone listening. The sound is intimate and distant at the same time. While K1000 provides an accurate, direct sound, while direct speaker sound arrives with a slight delay (6 ft takes ~6 ms) and reflected speaker sound comes even later. In reality, I can't hear the speaker at all, even though it is playing slightly below normal listening volume. I suspect that the ear treats speaker sound as delayed, reflected sound.
However, the integration is probably not trivial. When I use my Cayin HA-1A to drive K1000, K1000/speaker integration is seamless. When I use my Jolida to drive K1000, timbre and ambience becomes a bit wierd and confusing, and I prefer K1000 by itself. When used alone, the Cayin (single-ended tube) and Jolida (tube/SS hybrid) drives K1000 equally well, but with different characters. I suspect the key to integration is timbre matching.
Since my speaker is playing at a lower volume than K1000, and K1000 itself has rolled-off bass below 50 Hz, getting enough bass impact is a bit tricky in my case, due to the ear's non-linear loudness perception in bass frequencies. Fortunately, I have two powered subwoofers, so I simply turn up subwoofer volume a bit higher than normal speaker listening to add a bit more visceral impact to fill things up.
While I sit in the speaker sweets pot, the K1000/speaker integration is at its full glory. However, even if I face 90 degrees away from the speakers, as I am typing on my desk now, the speaker sound still can't be heard and still provides a good amount of ambience. It appears that my brain perceives K1000 as the primary sound source and any delayed sound from speakers is perceived as ambience or reflected sound. Previously I have tried K1000 with my subwoofer, but there is poor integration because the sub sound appears too slow.
I do feel that there is a slight of loss of details and resolution while using K1000+speaker vs. K1000 alone. But that is hardly a problem for a detailed headphone like K1000. Adding the speakers does not really expand the soundstage much, but the sense of room ambience and the acoustic space around the instruments feels like tripled. The instruments don't seem to move further out but there is a sense of acoustic depth behind it. The room reflections in the recordings now seem to be much more natural.
I think it is just a matter of luck that my K1000 and speaker systems integrate seamlessly in sound. Of course it is also possible that I tweaked both systems to share very similar tonal balance by extensive tuberolling. Still, I am listening to two tube amps (single-ended EL84 and class A push-pull EL84), two SS amps (inside subs), 8 drivers (2 from K1000, 4 from monitors, and 2 from subs), and four crossover circuits all working seamlessly together. That so many unrelated components work synergistically is probably just coincidence. Simply switching to the K1000 amp I normally use during SACD listening destroys the synergy.
To my ears, K1000 has three minor flaws. It sound a bit too bright and lacks a bit of ambience and lowest-octave bass. Now I use single-ended triode amp make the tone darker, the monitor speakers to fill in the ambience and the active subs to add bass impact. For classical and jazz I could not be happier. For pop/rock, it is still too slow and acoustically accurate, and I much prefer the fun and aggressive sound of my DAC1+SR225. No, my K1000/speaker system is still not perfect, but it has magic
. The magic is shrinking a real concert hall to the size of a two-feet-wide helmet and wear it on my head. The room acoustics is still all there but the sound is so imtimate.
Many thanks to Wmcmanus!!! Kudos to a true audiophile! He has defied the norm of audio equipment uasge and discovered an amazing way to listen to music. Although I can't fully reproduce the effects he heard in his system, I have found my own ear candy following his suggestion.