Man, I'd give a non-regeneratable bodily appendage to live in Europe, and it has nothing to do with being able to hear more headphones (though that's always a plus
). However, at least for the present, I'm tied to this infernal place. I can't make it out to a meet reliably either, so I have to pester people with these inane threads.
The O2/KGSS or possibly Woo GES and the H2/TR2/speaker amp are my main options at the moment. I think I'd prefer the H2 based on the descriptions, but of course not having heard either I can't really say. All I know is that if one doesn't do it for me I'll try the other, and hope it all works out.
I say H2 because electronic music occupies an increasingly bigger share of my listening time (75%) and I think the H2's better slam/impact will make it more satisfying in the long run. The 404 has a very nice open sound with great detail and instrument separation, but it doesn't have the bass slam or the dynamic range, and the treble needs to settle down. I guess my ideal headphone would be something with an SR-003-like tonal balance, though more extension at either end, SR-404-like soundstage and detail, and ES2-like slam and impact.
More specifically, I want to hear each and every instrument or electronic sample perfectly spatially separated and presented as their own entity (the 404 is good at this). I want a realistic tone and tembre but slightly saturated tone color (the K340 does this brilliantly
IMO). I want driving, toe-tapping impact and dynamic range (something that neither the 404 nor the HD650 can do, but the ES2 and to a lesser extent the K340 do this well). Then, I want a somewhat lush, mellifluous veneer cast over the music that makes it a bit more, well, musical, vivid and engaging, sort of like listening to music with a few drinks in your system as opposed to listening stark sober - not quite enough to mask detail or skew the tonal balance out of all proportion, but enough to give it that extra magic. This, from my experience, is what the HE90 does - presents everything accurately enough to not jar you out of the sonic illusion, but overlay it with a layer of velvety lushness. The ES2 does this too, which is why it's my favorite at the moment. The K340 would do this too, but its treble is out of control, on my pair in any case, which basically kills any long-term enjoyment I get out of it. It still makes for a very nice, engaging and somewhat rowdy listen. It also needs very loud volumes to shine, which my ears are less and less able to tolerate. The HD600, in the right system, hints at this potential as well, but it's far too slow and undetailed in any system that I have at my disposal to consider it a primary contender.
I think the H2 is closer to this than the O2, but I guess I'll know eventually. By the end of the summer I'll have one system or another at my doorstep. I was
not too far away from being able to afford an HE90, but seeing how latest pairs are selling for $8k or more, I'll have to wait a few years.
Anyway, that's the situation, as if anybody cares
Erm... I'll have to look up intergrated solid-state amps for the time being. The 3020 sounds like a good place to start.