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An electrostat noob's Stax O2 + KGSS vs. dynamic headphones (photo)

post #1 of 276
Thread Starter 
After more than two years of Head-Fi and listening to single-ended dynamic headphones, I've finally joined the ranks of electrostatic owners. This was a bit accidental, in a way. Due to accidentally over-aggressive bidding on a Stax SR-007 Omega II, I found myself with the headphones but no amp.

I could've just sold the headphones and taken the potential loss as a lesson on the hazards of "two clicks and some typing and you've bought it." Instead, being gluttons for punishment, my wallet and I went looking for an amp. I placed an order for the SRM-007tII at a local shop.

A day later the amp was ready for pickup, but for some reason I didn't go. Weird. A Stax amp ready for the Omega II and one doesn't rush to the shop?

Turns out maybe there was a reason after all, when that night a KGSS came up for sale in the FS forum. Being a glutton for punishment, I was extremely happy when PayPal and the seller conspired to beat me up thoroughly.

A week later, I'm listening to the O2 and KGSS. The AT-HA5000 and the Raptor are silent and unpowered. The AT-HA5000 has suffered the further indignity of being kicked out of its position on the rack.

Will it be able to fight back? Can single-ended dynamic headphones compete against the O2? Stay tuned for the further adventures of an electrostat noob.

post #2 of 276

Welcome to the electrostat club/ world!

Good decisions - after all, it's only money and your hearing will deteriorate with age! Better to get to the higher level of resolution listening now. You can always earn more money but never deny yourself electrostatic listening opportunities!

Happy listening, Elephas!
post #3 of 276

Stats "vs." Dynamics

Have fun and be patient. I also have the O2s and the KGSS. It took me ten months of listening to come to terms with their qualities. All I'd like to do now is upgrade my cdp.
post #4 of 276
I'm sure the O2's will wipe the floor with the "inferior" dynamics. The O2's are very sensitive to IC's and PC's preferring neutral and fast cables. The wrong cable can turn them into a muddy heap of bass. You should also bend the two metal arcs so they fit your head better. It isn't necessary but the stock configuration is likely to have a slightly overblown or anemic so it's vital to fully unleash their potential. They are also more comfy when you get the fit just right.

While the KGSS is a good amp it is slightly cold and analytical. Electrostatics really like tubes and big tubes at that.
post #5 of 276
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by webbie64 View Post
Better to get to the higher level of resolution listening now.
Thank you, I agree!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mingde10467 View Post
Have fun and be patient. I also have the O2s and the KGSS. It took me ten months of listening to come to terms with their qualities. All I'd like to do now is upgrade my cdp.
I think I can understand the potentially long period of time needed to accumulate knowledge of a headphone system's qualities and capabilities. After more than a year of listening to the W5000+HA5000 I still don't think I've explored what it's capable of.

Source upgrade, yes, I like that idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post
I'm sure the O2's will wipe the floor with the "inferior" dynamics. The O2's are very sensitive to IC's and PC's preferring neutral and fast cables. The wrong cable can turn them into a muddy heap of bass. You should also bend the two metal arcs so they fit your head better.
Er, after two hours of listening the O2 hasn't scored a decisive victory yet.

I'll do some IC and PC swapping and headband bending. As a W5000 owner, I'm well aware of the benefits of bending two metal arcs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post
Electrostatics really like tubes and big tubes at that.
I didn't want to know that (OK, OK maybe I did). Apparently there's an amp called the Blue Hawaii?

This is what the O2 is up against, plus the HD600 (not shown):

post #6 of 276
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elephas View Post
Er, after two hours of listening the O2 hasn't scored a decisive victory yet.

I'll do some IC and PC swapping and headband bending. As a W5000 owner, I'm well aware of the benefits of bending two metal arcs.
Give them time. It took me two weeks of intensive listening to fully realize how good they were and they do still amaze me even after four years of owning them. Sadly they don't get much use these days because of all the other headphones that need to be used. They aren't trying to impress so the longer you use them the better they will sound.

The pads are also an extra twist. Try them with the seams pointing towards the temples at a slightly upward angle (15-35°). Then you can position your ears inside the the pads. I like to have them as far back on the head as I can with the front of the ears almost touching the inside of the pads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elephas View Post
I didn't want to know that (OK, OK maybe I did). Apparently there's an amp called the Blue Hawaii?

This is what the O2 is up against, plus the HD600 (not shown):

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y10...ones/Group.jpg
Very nice collection but it's just too... errr... dynamic. I need to take another group photo.

The SR-007 is the most power hungry normal 'stat ever made and the Blue Hawaii is good but it's not good enough. That is why I'm designing a P-P DHT amp with 845's as output tubes. They are powerful enough to swing electrostatic loudspeakers so they should work for the SR-007...
post #7 of 276
Good find, looking forward to your impressions Elephas
post #8 of 276
Thread Starter 
I agree earpad rotation and positioning of the ear affects the sound. I have the seams positioned facing forward. I'll experiment.

I'm already very impressed with the O2.

Some initial impressions:
  • Extremely refined
  • Smooth
  • Excellent soundstage, imaging and notes separation
  • Deep, impactful, textured bass
  • Superb with classical music
  • Warm and a bit dark-sounding
  • Lacking some treble extension?
  • Lacking some details, especially compared to the R10 and W5000?
post #9 of 276
you have a seriously great collection of headphones. way to go on the OIIs. not sure when, if ever, i will make my way into that territory. want to enjoy the benefits of balanced for a while before i head off somewhere else.
post #10 of 276
They are not lacking those details Elephas. What I learned is that alot of dynamic headphones, and a particular dual-driver AKG headphone make the details that they bring out much more distinct, but Stax remain superior in sheer amount of details.
post #11 of 276
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
want to enjoy the benefits of balanced for a while before i head off somewhere else.
Yeah, I'm waiting for the Apache too. Balanced dynamics + the Apache vs. the O2/KGSS might be interesting. This electrostatic business was kind of unplanned, a bit of an impulse buy.

The R10 and W5000 are very detailed, one of the reasons I like them so much. So far, yes, the O2 is also very detailed, but it seems to lack the last step in microdetails the other two have.

It took me some time to conclude the R10 is more detailed than the W5000 in my system, and even so they are very close. I plan to spend a lot of enjoyable listening time with the O2 in the coming weeks.
post #12 of 276
While I haven't heard the dynamics you are comparing them to I have found them to be more detailed then both the Sennheiser He90 and the Stax SR-Lambda Signature. In quick comparisons they do both appear to have the upper hand but it's just their more upfront nature tricking the ears. This is with a setup tuned to extreme detail retrieval.
post #13 of 276
Electrostatics in general do tend to have a more relaxed presentation of detail. It's all there, but not quite as shoved in your face as a similarly detailed dynamic headphone would be. Still, the most detailed headphone I've ever heard was a dynamic (Qualia 010). Not that I ever heard the O2 to begin with so I should STFU and /slap myself.
post #14 of 276
First of all, my compliments on the O2+KGSS. If ever my house burns down with my HE60 inside, that's what I think I'd buy.
Still, I have a question. Why didn't you go electrostatic earlier? I mean, you have such a great collection of headphones, but no stats until now. How come?
post #15 of 276
Congratulations! ...and welcome to Team Omega II.
I am pretty sure they don't lack the details, as you say. You probably have to adapt to them, as they have a different sound signature than most dynamic headphones.
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