Originally Posted by mirumu
I've never even used the HD595 with half of those sources in my profile, they don't drive them properly and I wouldn't claim for a minute that they do. I do think my Xiang Sheng 708B amp does wonders with the HD595 and on occasions I really do think they sound very good but it can't manage it for all the music I listen to. I have tried it with better sources, dedicated CD players, etc although they are not up to the level of your setup. Having said that, I don't think the source and amp are as relevant to my impressions as you suggest because I have heard a number of both cheaper and more expensive headphones/amps that sound much better than the HD595 with the same or worse sources.
Even assuming that such a good source and amp do improve the HD595s at the level you describe, why would I want to go through the hassle of building a system around such a headphone? If you need a ~$1600 source and a ~$2000 amp to make a $150 headphone sound great then that's one very hard to drive headphone and a costly system. It also goes against the grain of much of the advice given here that says that the HD595 doesn't even need an amp. I agree with you, it does need and amp, it needs a good one and a good source too. They increase the soundstage, tighten the bass, smooth the midrange and add treble refinement much like you say but it doesn't change their overall character. They just don't seem to have the detail, timbre and soundstage I am looking for. I don't deny for a moment they can sound great like that but such as system is not what most people are going to be listening to them with. Personally, if I'm going to spend that kind of money on sources or amps for anything (and I am) it'll be my Omega 2s as they are more scalable.
I didnt build my system around any particular headphone. I just did a trial and error with pretty much everything, starting with grados and solid state, until I came across the gear I found to be the best for me. The source and amp were determined long before I knew about the 595. I bought a used pair of senn 595's based on a friends recommendation. I never expected them to sound so good .... but they do.
At this point I find the 595 more involving and less flawed than a number of highly ranked headphones .... particularly the senn 650 .... and I seem to be a Senn man. I know the 595 doesnt have the 650's soundstage size .... but the 595 doesnt have the 650's slow, fat bass and overly dull high frequencies either. Overall, I find the 595's more involving despite the 650's reputation.
I guess my point is before you discount a product you need to see how the product performs in an optimal setting. To often I see people say how headphone X cant compare with headphone Y .... but they have not compared them on the same equipment .... or equipment of equal quality. They listen to headphone X on a suboptimal setup and assume the headphone cant scale when paired with better equipment .... and never give the headpone a chance to show what it can do. I ignored the 595 for a couple years based on opinions here the 580/600/650 were just in a higher class. But the few posts that stated the 595 was like a senn/ grado intrigued me. I finally tried the 595 after a friend of mine kept raving about them.
What did I discover? Just like the 580/600 .... put the 595 on a good tube amp with a good source and this headphone can play with the best. With rock and electric blues I prefer the 595 most of the time .... for less money and with greater comfort than even my prized, recabled senn 600's.
The 595 may not be your sound but I would not automatically assume the O2 will be decidely superior when each is optimized. I know I am not a fan of electrostatics as I owned some old Stax that were state of the art back in the late 1970's and I just never connected with them. In the end, to each his own, but the longer I delve into audio the more I understand you need to compare products fairly and to avoid assumptions of what you think a product can do. Put the 595's on a good tube amp with an upscale source sometime and see what you think. You may end up pleasantly surprised like I was