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Should I Buy the ATH-L3000s?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
I've been going back and forth on this for a while now. I know of a pair available and I've been debating on whether or not to get them.

My main reason for wanting them is because it's finally reached the point where I'm just not completely satisfied with my R10s when it comes to my more aggressive musical tastes - namely hard rock and metal. They get the tone and soundstaging perfectly, but lose the visceral and up-front impact needed. I have my RS1's but I've yet to recable them for my SDS-XLR, and their lack of soundstage bothers me on more refined and expansive metal (think Opeth, Emperor, etc.). I thought, perhaps, the L3000s would be a great fit. From what little I've heard of them I remember their excellent bass and superb handling of guitars and rock music.

My one concern is this: Are the L3000s fast enough to handle the fastest and most complex metal?

I've heard they're not the fastest headphones, and I'm wondering how they handle very fast, complex, and aggressive music.
post #2 of 64
Soundstage is not exactly a strong point of the L3000.
If you're looking for an expansive, detailed soundstage you might be better off with AD2000.
post #3 of 64
Thread Starter 
I don't need a really large soundstage - I've got the R10s for that - just something bigger than Grados. I'm more concerned with bass, PRAT, dynamics, punch, and enough speed to keep up with fast and complex music.
post #4 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGhostWhoWalks View Post
I don't need a really large soundstage - I've got the R10s for that - just something bigger than Grados. I'm more concerned with bass, PRAT, dynamics, punch, and enough speed to keep up with fast and complex music.
They do that allright. But it also sounds a lot like the PS-1. The PS-1 are faster imo.
post #5 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kees View Post
Soundstage is not exactly a strong point of the L3000.
If you're looking for an expansive, detailed soundstage you might be better off with AD2000.
Agreed, but he's talking specifically about balanced headphones for use with his SDS-XRL. I've not heard the AD2000 balanced, and don't know if anyone has actually had them recabled for balanced use. Quite frankly, I quite like my stock AD2000 and really wouldn't mess with it.

My SDS-XLR is on the way to Cayman now. For the record, I've actually had it in my possession for several months but was traveling in the States so it didn't make sense to ship it until now.

Anyway, the short list of headphones that I'm thinking about recabling for balanced use, include:

R10 (it's just a matter of what materials to use and who to have do the work)
L3000
PS-1
Edition 9
HD650

I've got balanced pairs of Qualia 010 and GS1000, so that should be a good start.

The HD650's are sort of a no brainer for me. It shouldn't be too terribly expensive to recable them for balanced use, and I've heard what they can do with the SDS-XLR. It's simply unreal. Hard to believe that they're the same pair of headphones as compared to a single ended pair. If you haven't tried these yet, you ought to.

I probably won't mess with the PS-1, unless I can get my hands on a balanced pair and do some comparisons to my stock pair of PS-1. They have a "unique" sound, and (much like the AD2000), I wouldn't want to mess with that. They're my "go to" cans when I want to get torn up by tight bass lines. I'm not saying that they couldn't be better balanced, I'd just have to hear it for myself first and wouldn't recable them without clear and convincing evidence up front.

The Edition 9's are a top contender because I can hear where they have more potential. Again, I'd love to be able to hear a balanced pair on the SDS-XLR and do some comparisons, but from what I've read, they can step up a notch or two when balanced. So chances are, I'll get these recabled at some point.

The L3000's are a tough call. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that balanced L3000's won't be a whole lot different than balanced R10's (since the bass is tightened up significantly when running the R10's in balanced mode). They should still give you a lot more PRaT than the R10's but I'm not so sure about their sheer speed. Of course, all of this is just conjecture on my part. Essentially, I'm in the same situation as you are in terms of deciding where the best investment will be.

My gut tells me that I'll end up with balanced R10, HD650, Edition 9, 010, and GS1000, but that I won't touch the PS-1 or L3000 (that stock cable is too pretty to mess with, for one). Other options include the K701, D5000, W5000, and several Beyers, but I don't think any of them will get to the level of the balanced R10's, so I probably won't bother.
post #6 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kees View Post
They do that allright. But it also sounds a lot like the PS-1. The PS-1 are faster imo.
The PS-1s are probably even harder to get a hold of now. And again, I imagine I'll still have to deal with that small Grado soundstage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
Quite frankly, I quite like my stock AD2000 and really wouldn't mess with it.
I can't imagine negative effects from recabling any headphone for balanced usage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
R10 (it's just a matter of what materials to use and who to have do the work)
Mine were done at SinglePower. They have an in-house cable that is supposedly better than the straight silver/copper cables from MoonAudio. I can't speak towards that effect, but I do know they sound phenomenal through my SDS-XLR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
I've got balanced pairs of Qualia 010 and GS1000, so that should be a good start.
Let me know how the GS1ks sound. I was eyeing them too, but it seems to me from the reviews I've read that they have as much in common with my R10s as an RS1 with more soundstaging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
If you haven't tried these yet, you ought to.
I actually recently sold my HD650s without recabling them - thanks for the recommendation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
I suspect, but don't know for sure, that balanced L3000's won't be a whole lot different than balanced R10's (since the bass is tightened up significantly when running the R10's in balanced mode).
While the R10's bass certainly improves tremendously with balancing it's still not the best in terms of what headphones can do. I'm thinking that an L3000s might not only give me more bass, but a more visceral presentation with the aggressive music I'm referring to.

Listening to really aggressive music through the R10s is interesting, because it's almost like it attempts to turn everything into classical. This isn't really a negative, because with that huge soundstage and rich, 3D presentation you sure do get music that sounds HUGE, and that works equally well for symphonic metal as it does for symphonic symphonies. However, no matter what I do - even switching to using 6CQ7 input tubes and 5687 outputs - I just can't get the R10s to sound viscerally exciting enough on this kind of music. I'm wondering if the L3Ks would solve that problem without completely losing the soundstage like with Grados.
post #7 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGhostWhoWalks View Post
I can't imagine negative effects from recabling any headphone for balanced usage.
Agreed, but I love the stock AD2000 so much with my Angstrom Research amp that if ever I decided to get a balanced pair of AD2000, that's just what I'd do! Go out and get another pair and have them balanced! I'm kind of strange that way, but for me, it's all about finding good sounds. Once I find something that I really like, I don't want to mess with it such that I can't go back to what it was.

Quote:
Mine were done at SinglePower. They have an in-house cable that is supposedly better than the straight silver/copper cables from MoonAudio. I can't speak towards that effect, but I do know they sound phenomenal through my SDS-XLR.
Only if I physically brought them there myself and didn't leave without them. But yup, that's definitely one of the options I'm considering.

Quote:
Let me know how the GS1ks sound. I was eyeing them too, but it seems to me from the reviews I've read that they have as much in common with my R10s as an RS1 with more soundstaging.
I'm not expecting them to be the end-all be-all, but when I ordered my pair initially (when the GS1000 first came out), I had the Moon Audio balanced cable put on them, thinking that I'd have my SDS-XLR in short order. It didn't work out that way, so they're still sitting there and will finally get their first workout soon!

Quote:
I actually recently sold my HD650s without recabling them - thanks for the recommendation!
The nice thing about the balanced HD650 is that you can KNOW in advance that it will make a HUGE difference and thus your money will be well spent. Whether the ultimate result is what you're looking for or not, you still get a lot of bang for the buck. Not all headphones respond as well as the HD650s do to going balanced.

Quote:
While the R10's bass certainly improves tremendously with balancing it's still not the best in terms of what headphones can do. I'm thinking that an L3000s might not only give me more bass, but a more visceral presentation with the aggressive music I'm referring to.

Listening to really aggressive music through the R10s is interesting, because it's almost like it attempts to turn everything into classical. This isn't really a negative, because with that huge soundstage and rich, 3D presentation you sure do get music that sounds HUGE, and that works equally well for symphonic metal as it does for symphonic symphonies. However, no matter what I do - even switching to using 6CQ7 input tubes and 5687 outputs - I just can't get the R10s to sound viscerally exciting enough on this kind of music. I'm wondering if the L3Ks would solve that problem without completely losing the soundstage like with Grados.
In that case, I think it would be worth a shot. Just from what I know about the differences between the R10 and L3000 (both stock and single ended), if those same differences translate equally well when going balanced, then the balanced L3000 should be exactly what you're looking for!

Even single ended, the L3000's are IMO the absolute champs in terms of PRaT and dynamic impact when playing complex passages. They really have a TON of life in them, that's for sure! This is based on my Angstrom Research two box amp which is an absolutely amazing single ended amp. It's a one-off creation that was somewhat of a marvel in its time (it uses 20 different tubes of 4 varieties and had a new retail of $15k, although I bought it second hand for much less).

The point being that I've heard the R10 versus L3000 comparison repeatedly in single ended, but with the best amp you can possibly use for that purpose, and the differences that you're looking for are the exact same differences that I'm hearing. I suspect that this will also translate well to the SDS-XLR in balanced mode as well. Dangit, you've now got me adding the L3000's to my list of recable jobs!
post #8 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
Only if I physically brought them there myself and didn't leave without them.
I assume you're worried about shipping? I put mine in their case, packed that in a quadruple thick cardboard box, and then put about 3 inches of bubble-wrap around that, packed that into another box, sent it Fed-Ex with $5k worth of insurance, and they got there and back alright.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
The nice thing about the balanced HD650 is that you can KNOW in advance that it will make a HUGE difference and thus your money will be well spent.
Well, I guess I'll be kicking myself for selling them then. Since I had my SA5ks recabled and I kinda preferred them to my HD650s for most of the music I used them for I just didn't see much need to keep them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus View Post
if those same differences translate equally well when going balanced, then the balanced L3000 should be exactly what you're looking for!
See, that's what I was afraid of. I go back and forth from talking myself in to getting them - and reaching the last page of "please confirm your order" - to talking myself out of them by saying that instead of another pair of $2k headphones I really need to put in my dedicated AC line and upgrade my PCs (now that I've heard the Genesis, there's no going back to anything less).

Thanks for the mini-review/comparison. Again, I think you're just confirming my suspicions that the L3Ks are just what I'm looking for. Another thing to consider is that my SDS-XLR is tuned for my R10s, so if I do get the L3Ks I'll probably pack up the SDS-XLR and send it to SinglePower to have them tune it to the L3Ks and perhaps do some other mods/upgrades (seeing as how mine is now 2 years old). Since I got it used it's also tuned for the Qualias since the previous owner had them too, and while I don't have Qualias, that setting works perfectly for the SA5ks and really adds more musicality to what can be very sterile headphones in the wrong setup.

One bit of advice when you get the SDS-XLR: If the Qualias are like the SA5ks, then the perfect tube to pair them with is a Sylvania 6SN7W, which adds a lot of weight, body, low-end umph and musicality. Of course, the Qualias might not be as bright and potentially harsh as the SA5ks...

EDIT: LOL, I just had a good idea: If I buy the L3Ks and decide I don't want them, then I can just sell them to you so that way you don't have to worry about recabling yours! Thas a good deal, right? Right? Eh?
post #9 of 64
I think it is a easy one. Buy them, listen to them for a period of time (weeks) to them so that you get familiar with their sound. IF you like them, then get them balanced. IF you don't like them, they selling them should be no problem here. IMO nothing to loose!
post #10 of 64
I have both the L3000 and R10s (bass heavy) balanced by SP going through my SDS-XLR.

Now this is going to be quite dependent on personal tastes and other system aspects, source, cables, etc., but since i have been listening to the R10/SDS-XLR combo i can't seem to enjoy the L3000 anymore. It just seems too congested/muddy in comparison. Contrary to what Wmcmanus posited, the R10 and L3000 balanced are absolutely nothing alike. The R10 is in a whole different league of refinement, which I find my tastes leaning towards these days. With rock the R10 may not be the best (the HE90 is available for that) but I still really enjoy it. I used to like more bass, HD650, but now my tastes have shifted. I can't even listen to the HD650 out of my SDS-XLR. I got the SAA cable to try it after hearing so much praise about this combo (HD650/SDS-XLR) here, but it is soo thick and unresolving and slow it doesn't work for me.

Maybe I need to try new cables on the L3000 and HD650, but for now the king with my SDS-XLR is the R10.

I was really hoping that the L3000 would be the king of rock for me but it hasn't made it there yet. Too slow and muffled compared to the R10.

Note: I have tried lots of tube combinations to make the L3000 better to my ears with some success. The R10 tubes definitely need to be different in the SDS-XLR to my ears.
post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post
I have both the L3000 and R10s (bass heavy) balanced by SP going through my SDS-XLR.

Now this is going to be quite dependent on personal tastes and other system aspects, source, cables, etc., but since i have been listening to the R10/SDS-XLR combo i can't seem to enjoy the L3000 anymore. It just seems too congested/muddy in comparison. Contrary to what Wmcmanus posited, the R10 and L3000 balanced are absolutely nothing alike. The R10 is in a whole different league of refinement, which I find my tastes leaning towards these days. With rock the R10 may not be the best (the HE90 is available for that) but I still really enjoy it. I used to like more bass, HD650, but now my tastes have shifted. I can't even listen to the HD650 out of my SDS-XLR. I got the SAA cable to try it after hearing so much praise about this combo (HD650/SDS-XLR) here, but it is soo thick and unresolving and slow it doesn't work for me.

Maybe I need to try new cables on the L3000 and HD650, but for now the king with my SDS-XLR is the R10.

I was really hoping that the L3000 would be the king of rock for me but it hasn't made it there yet. Too slow and muffled compared to the R10.

Note: I have tried lots of tube combinations to make the L3000 better to my ears with some success. The R10 tubes definitely need to be different in the SDS-XLR to my ears.
Excellent post! This is obviously the type of comparison that he was looking for, and with equal obviousness, it clearly trumps anything I might have had to say because my comparisons were using single ended headphones/amp.

Not to throw gas on the fire, but the next candidate that comes to mind in terms of filling in that gap he has been experiencing with the R10's relative lack of bass, would be a balanced pair of Edition 9. Basically, the same idea as with the L3000. Can anyone comment directly about the balanced Edition 9 on an SDS-XLR (or other balanced Singlepower amp) versus the balanced R10?
post #12 of 64
Wayne,

Didn't Al have his Ed9s balanced for use with his SDS? Give him a call and ask what he thinks...
post #13 of 64
Leatherheads and Metal Music?

Calling Iron_Dreamer ........
Calling Iron_Dreamer ........
Calling Iron_Dreamer ........

post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by grawk View Post
Wayne,

Didn't Al have his Ed9s balanced for use with his SDS? Give him a call and ask what he thinks...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
Leatherheads and Metal Music?

Calling Iron_Dreamer ........
Calling Iron_Dreamer ........
Calling Iron_Dreamer ........

Two excellent suggestions.

Although... as much as it wouldn't hurt to get a 2nd opinion about the balanced L3000's with the SDS-XLR, I'd be quite reluctant myself to shell out that kind of money given that at least one other person has tried so hard to get them to work in his (((exact same))) system without success.

As far as Al's balanced Edition 9, I was at his Mayberry on Acid meet and never bothered to try them! Or if I did, I was too beered up to remember. Definitely worth getting his view on this, as well as anyone else who was at that meet and spent some time with that rig.
post #15 of 64
Or just point the semi west...
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