Originally Posted by mikeg
I also think that I've heard Wayne say that a balanced HD650/SDS-XLR system that he heard, even exceeded the performance quality of his HE90/HEV90 system.
Nah, I don't think I've said that. Or if I did, I shouldn't have because I've never had the chance to compare them directly.
The only expose I've has to the HD650/SDS-XLR was under meet conditions, but it definitely left an amazing impression. In balanced mode, it transformed the HD650/Zu into an entirely different creature than the same pair of cans run in single ended from the same amp. So the HD650/SDS-XLR (balanced) is definitely, and by far, the best I've ever heard the HD650's sound. This may well be the very best I've heard from ANY dynamic headphone setup (except perhaps the Qualia 010/Singlepower balanced "bling bling" gold amp at a later meet in New York). But that's hard to say.
What I have said of late is that in some ways the K1000/EAR V20 is at least commanding more of my attention and listening time than the HE90/HEV90, but I haven't really compared those two systems in a head to head manner either.
I agree entirely with Hirsch in that at some level, all of these top headphones we're talking about here are capable of performing at incredible levels and it really makes no sense at all to argue about which is "superior" to the other. To do so would first require a lot
of "context" (both in a system sense, and also in terms of the music selected, your particular sonic preferences, etc.) and second would never completely hit the nail on the head because, as Hirsch has stated, each
of these top headphones is capable of doing certain things that none of the others can do! His examples of the K1000, Qualia 010, R10, and HE90 are all spot on. I could add another example based on the PS-1, for instance.
This reminds me of a story... A couple of years ago, I was attending an office Christmas party for a very small company. There were about 12 of us at the table and we were having dinner at a fancy, high-end restaurant. Not really my thing, typically, but it's nice to do every now and then (and espeically on someone else's nickel). We had our appetizers and were just settling into the entrees, when a waiter came by and asked us (with a very presumptuous tone in his voice, as though he had been trained to speak this way), "How are the flavors developing?"
My first reaction was to snicker, but I noticed that others at the table felt that it was a genuine question, and they murmored and nodded in approval and nothing was said about it. Afterwards, a couple of days later, I made an omlettee for my then girlfriend and asked her the same question in the same tone, and she burst out laughing! Her reaction had been the same as mine, but she too, was afraid to say it at the time! Then she said, "Do you mean how does it taste? It tastes good!" We laughed until we cried.
But I think that with certain headphones, and especially when placed in the right system, as Nik apparently has done with the K1000's and his Leben amp (and I know I have with the K1000/Ear V20), it begins to "taste" so good that you just want to savor every note. Not necessarily because it's so terribly expensive (as was our dinner that night) but because there is really something special going on and your senses are on overload. You become drenched in music and get goosebumps at times because it creates moments in your musical memory that just seemed so "perfect" that they're hard to describe, even just a few minutes later. Yet, of course, as with any restaurant, even the finest of them all, there is always something that could have been done better to improve the overall experience. And this is why, as much as we may truly love one, we still get a lot of enjoyment out of trying another, at least every now and then.