Originally Posted by aRRR
Just bought a GES with a He Audio output. Im still pondering about wether I should go the stax side> O2 Mk1 or with the Jade. I loved the HE60 sound and its speed and clarity and read the Jade is similar but more bass which it needed.
We all know what we are going to get for an answer in this topic, right?
But does the GES have enough power to make the O2 shine?
Search for posts by "HeadphoneAddict" with the phrase "GES" or "Woo GES" and see what I've posted before.
The GES is slightly underpowered for the O2, and I would like to be able to get another 3 dB of headroom out of the O2 with it sometimes - especially if trying to play loud music at live levels, or trying to play pounding electronic music with a heavy bass line. The RSA A-10 I tried in July has maybe another 1-3 dB of headroom depending on the music, but costs $6,500 and the $5,000 Blue Hawaii SE is even more powerful than that and seems like 4-5 dB more headroom over the GES. So, in that sense the GES does well for the price. The WES was great at CanJam with O2 Mk2 but also the prototype's power was limited to about 60% of the final version, and I didn't get to try O2 Mk1, and it costs the same as a KGBH SE, so I don't know what to recommend with that one.
The timbre, tone, detail, soundstage and musicality of the GES is wonderful and I can get good sound from the O2 with the right tubes and DAC. Because the O2 are pickier about what you drive them with than other electrostatic phones, they don't always sound good with the tubes and DAC that make the Jade or HE60 or Lambdas sound good. The Apogee mini-DAC with NOS 12BZ7 tubes that came with the maxed GES were good with Jade and HE60 and Lambda but too dark with O2 Mk1.
Switching to so GE "Wurlitzer" 12AX7 or Telefunken smooth plate 12AX7, and changing the DAC to a PS Audio Digital Link III made a big improvement with the O2 Mk1 (and Mk2). This still sounds okay with the Jade, SR-404 Limited Edition and SR-Lambda, but is a little too bright with the HE60 and SR-Lambda Signature.
If you want to use the O2 on the GES, and want loud pounding music, you'll want to keep the Jade or have a dynamic headphone rig for those times.