Originally Posted by milkpowder
So you're saying that the ES2 is even fuller than the E500? Do they sound realistic, or is it a sort of smoothed-out, coloured sound that is sort of different to how it would really sound in real life? Are they detailed enough throughout the whole frequency range (especially bass) for large symphonic works? If they're like the UM2s (good, but slightly uncontrolled bass, lack of detail/definition in the mids and highs, though sweet sounding), then that's a big no-no for classical symphonic and ensembles or even solo/accompanied violin.
Hmm... interesting indeed. I don't find the E500 that analytical at all. In fact, they're smoother and more musical than they are analytical! Thebass is usually thicker than it's supposed to be in real life. Would the ES2 be neutral enough to accurately reproduce complex music like large orchestras? The E500 are great for less complex music like jazz, solo classical, small ensemble classical, vocals and rock, but don't perform that well with complex large ensemble music. Crystal clear sound is what I'm looking for (maybe UE10Pro are better then).
I find that the ES2 performs very well with large orchestral works, as well as intimate/richly textured small jazz ensembles -- and solo violin. I just did a quick comparison using my DT880-250/2005 and ES2 with both M-Hornet and Portaphile PV2^2-LT1210 Maxxed amps (via iPod 4G 40G).
The soundstage width of the ES2 is comparable to the extremely wide soundstage of the 880s -- perceived as well beyond the ears.
Detail, texture and air with the ES2 is very good and musically satisfying. The 880s offer more air and sparkle, and I would say that the ES2 does smooth the finest details slightly. If you want to elicit the utmost detail and inner detail, although I feel the M-Hornet is slightly better overall for huge/integrated sound space and liquid musicality, the Portaphile does slightly better in portraying complex detail, texture, harmonic structure, timbral complexities, and layered imaging (more discrete spaces around performers). So choose your listening preferences before choosing an amp. Both are superb peformers. The Portaphile offers a tiny bit more volume latitude at low gain than the M-Hornet (1-2 points more), while the M-Hornet offers more bass punch, mid warmth and presence, and ease of long-term listening. I love the complexities offered by the Portaphile, so I alternate between the two amps, depending on music and mood.
Even with the same music, it's a tough choice. For example, with Bill Evans Trio Live At The Village Vanguard, "Waltz For Debby" -- the Portaphile best portrays the rich complexities of the string bass, percussion and ambient (audience/house) sounds -- but the Hornet best fills the middle of the soundstage which is very left/right with this old recordings.
Strauss / Fritz Reiner / Ein Heldenleben -- an orchestral work with great sweep, richly complex massed strings -- holds up well with good detail, size/scope, and timbral representation.
Bernstein's "Candide" -- the huge sound space and beautiful/discretely placed voices are recreated with excellent separation and dimension. The M-Hornet gives more sense of mass and natural voice resonance, while the Portaphile portrays more of the instrumental textures and complex waveforms/harmonic structure. Both have excellent HF extension and sparkle.
Maxim Vengerov "Vengerov Virtuoso" -- spectacular solo showcase pieces -- sounds gorgeous, with clean highs but no undue stridency (beyond his muscular style), and the accompanying piano has good weight with no overhang. The high, fast, delicate harmonic runs are nicely done. "La Ronde Des Lutins" is excellent with both amps -- sweeter and bigger with the M-Hornet, more air and rosin bite with the Portaphile.
Bob Dylan, "Love and Theft" -- "High Water" has a repeating fast tympani riff that's done with good speed and weight with both amps (bigger with the Hornet), with the Portaphile adding tighter definition, detail and audible notes to the individual tympani strokes.
Alison Krauss & Untion Station "Lonely Runs Both Ways" -- with the Hornet it's rich, deep and (again) "liquid", with her voice beautifully warm and sweet; with the Portaphile it's more open, with the strings' complexity and sparkle emphasized and Alison's voice more ethereal and breathy.
The ES2 portrays all these subtle differences with ease.
Ultimately, the ES2 does beautifully with all types of music, including large/wide/complex orchestral works, massed strings, horns, guitars, piano, voice -- you name it. It just misses a tiny bit of the sparkle and air of phones such as the 880-250/2005 and K701.
The Hornet is tough to manage regarding the extremely narrow volume latitude with sensitive IEMs. With high level recordings, I find the volume set below the first volume notch! 8:00-9:00 with lower level recordings. Ray may be developing something specifically for IEMs sometime soon. Hopefully we'll hear something very soon. The M-Hornet is, of course, readily available and quite lovely in hand.
Cesar of Portaphile is hard at work on his new "Shohin" amp, so no more of the lovely PV2^2-LT1210 Maxxed are available (well, maybe one?) -- though you can find one occasionally in the For Sale Forum, but be sure it's ONLY the latest PV2^2-LT1210 Maxxed w/2x1500uf Black Gate NX caps (anything less is not the same superb amp).
Regarding frequency range specs, the 20Hz-18kHz seems to be accurate. I did an auditory test this week with the ES2 (via Mac G5 2x2GHz PowerPC Tower) and was able to hear everything from 20Hz-20kHz, but the 20kHz tones were very hissy and not clear as the 18k tones were. Besides being surprised that I could hear all that, I was impressed that the ES2 really transmitted all that.
Hope this enhances the overall picture. Feel free to ask more questions if needed.