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Colorado Springs Stax/Ortho/Dacs Meet Impressions (BIG PICS!)  

post #1 of 101
Thread Starter 
Just a teaser for now, more after my head get screwed on straight.

Headphone Addict graciously hosted a small meet - originally envisioned as an electrostatic/orthodynamic comparo and DAC reevaluation. As is typical in these parts - a LOT of kit materialized. Our host, Blutarsky, Naamanf, Sherwood, Barry and myself were in attendance. I'll get pictures (yes, with CAPTIONS) an some impressions up before the Holiday's over...
post #2 of 101
Thread Starter 
On this table: Orthos!

On That table: Staxen!
LL
LL
post #3 of 101
more ..we demand more...now!..

Orthos for the win!!
post #4 of 101
Can't wait to hear impressions. That's a lot of cool gear there!
post #5 of 101
I was very pleased at how well my Woo GES stood up to the KGBH, with just a very slight decrease in bass output and very slightly softer attack, but otherwise just as enjoyable everywhere else. Listening to all the stats has spoiled me for my dynamics, and I now know I am a stat person through and through. I just can't seem to get the enjoyment out of my Edition 9 as much anymore. However, there is an exception - my favorite dynamic coming out of the meet today is the K1000 which sounds great balanced from my upgraded Single Power Square Wave XL as well as naamanf's Beta 22. I've got to get me a pair if the HD800 I have ordered don't "do it" for me. I might sell my Edition 9 too.

I might end up selling my orthodynamics - all my stats are just better to me, even with listening to several modded/dampened orthos. Smeggy, don't kill me, but none of the stock or modded orthos out of the Woo WA6 (or SOHA II) could keep up with the electrostatics out of the Woo GES (or Travagans Red with SRD-7 Mk2, or KGBH). dBel's modded Fostex were the most transparent, and I liked the modded YH-100 and modded HP-3 more than the stock YH-100 or HP-1. It was easier for the orthos to sound congested and muddled in complex musical passages, especially the stock ones, when comparing them to the electrostatics. I'm trying to decide if I am going to mod them, or sell them and stick with my stats (except for the Smeggy SFI that I am keeping forever).

The Smegma Pro acquitted themselves well, and sounded very good even in the company of higher end stats. I was difficult to rank them since most of the stats sounded better than the dynamics, except for the K1000. Everyone liked the Smegma Pro, and I like them more than the SR-Lambda and SR-5NB gold. I'm just not sure they are up to the level APS recabled ESP950 and above, but they are close.

We also did a comparison of several desktop DAC, and we threw in the iBasso D10 since the Buffalo DAC was having a problem after moving it from the betta 22 and KGBH rig to Sherwood's rig for the shootout. Having been slightly disappointed with the Cambridge DACMagic at the 11/1/09 meet we listened to the burned-in DACMagic again, and it sounds much better now (filter on Min). We used Sherwood's NAD542 CDP as source and ran the Coax-out into an SPDIF distribution station, and then fed its FIVE outputs into 5 of the DACs, and fed the optical from the NAD into the 6th DAC (not sure which). We then connected the analog outputs of 6 different DACs to a Presonus Central Station preamp, and then ran the preamp's outputs into the Woo GES and naamanf built KGBH (and RCA loop out into an amp and SRD-7 Mk2). We could then use the preamp to switch instantly between the 6 DACs. Those included iBasso D10 line out, AMB Gamma 1, DACMagic, Stello DA100, Apogee mini-DAC, and Electrocompaniet ECD-1.

Sherwood did switching with four of us listening blind to a variety of electrostatics, and writing notes about what we thought. We did not find out what # was which DAC till we were done. Listening fatigure set in and we spent the least amount of time with DAC #5 and #6, which happened to be the DACMagic and Apogee. Nevertherless, The DACMagic RCA out vs Apogee mini-DAC 1/8" line out sounded the same when switching back and forth between the two. This was interesting because at the November meet the DACMagic was the softest sounding DAC and the Apogee was the most aggressive sounding one, but now we did not hear any change when switching between them.

The AMB Gamma 1 DAC wiatrob built also matched the performance of these two, but we did not get to test the XLR out of the Apogee or DACMagic. All three sounded very good single ended. The Stello DA100 and Electroaccompaniet EC1 also sounded just like each other and were slightly ahead of the AMB, Apogee and Cambridge, but I wondered how much of that was the slight volume difference between these two and the other three. The portable iBasso D10 DAC via line out had the lowest output volume and require increasing the amp's volume knobs by 2 hours to match the volume of the other DACs. The D10 was a little flatter and less dynamic sounding, with slightly less space and ambience as well. It just didn't have the life and sparkle of the full size DAC's. Interestingly, the iBasso D10 optical DAC line out was compared earlier to the Pico USB DAC feeding the Woo GES, and the D10 via optical was an EVEN MATCH for the Pico via USB. I wonder if we did something wrong in our procedure or if we really were just burned out, because as I recall the Pico and D10 optical sounded a lot better earlier in the day. Sherwood did listen to the D10 optical with line-out vs Pico USB as a preamp feeding the GES in my rig earlier, and agreed with me that he could not hear any differences between the two.
post #6 of 101
Sure sounds like you guys (girls?) had a really nice time!
So many electrostatic, orthodynamic, and some dynamic headphones..

More pictures would be welcome.
post #7 of 101
Hey Larry,
Thanks for the impressions...

What tracks were you using that had complex music? I am assuming classical music..could you please mention which ones.

How far ahead are the Electrostatics compared to the orthos...and where did the K1000 stand in the mix?..better than the stats?
post #8 of 101
The orthos will have trouble keeping up with good 'stats, but then, they are generally a lot cheaper, poorly tuned and small-ish drivers. We aspire to get some level of stat sound on the cheap (that was the original plan anyway) now that ortho prices are rising to 'stat levels the goal has become somewhat twisted. That's why I'm now recommending new Fostexes to get back to that ratio of good to cheap.

The K1000 is on an even plane to the 'stats. They are extremely capable and sound great. Not too much low bass but we forgive them that because the rest is so good.
post #9 of 101
I could easily see myself running with the K1000; although, I would probably run it with a sub to make up for the bass deficiancy. The orthos sound interesting to a degree. It appears that the pecking order for HeadphoneAddict is:

electrostats>>>>>>>>>>>>>orthos>dynamics
post #10 of 101
Stats are extremely good, but I have or have had the ones I can afford so I turned my attention to orthos because they're relatively cheap and fun to play with and I'm getting some great results, especially with the new ones but of course they won't suit everyone.

I only have the K1000 left in standard dynamics (yeah, the k1000 is standard.. right) all the others are stats, trets and orthos. We planar people are a strange bunch
post #11 of 101
Sure would love to try an orthodynamic.
But the Orthodynamic Roundup thread is too massive for me to read into with its 545 pages / 8170 posts. And besides that thread very little is written about them in here.

They don't seem to show up for sale all that often either...
post #12 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict
dBel's modded Fostex were the most transparent
Interesting. What do you mean by transparent?
post #13 of 101
Nice! Looks like a lot of fun. Would love to try something other than dynamic headphones one day!
post #14 of 101
Thanks for getting the ball rolling Bill , sure looks like you had enough to keep yourselves busy yesterday

I hadn't really expected the orthos to come out on top of this challenge but I had hoped that they could stand their own. If my reading between the lines is correct, they didn't completely tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by mypasswordis View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict
dBel's modded Fostex were the most transparent
Interesting. What do you mean by transparent?
I called them the most technically accurate as transparent does have different meanings for different people. I would highly recommend this CD for anyone who wants to conquer audiophile termiology. They describe transparency as "an open window to the sound"

My own feeling however is that the yamaha or more "musical" and make for a better listening experience. I would be curious to hear what people thought of the YH100 (modded) relative to the other orthos. They are just so tricky to damp that I am always left feeling that I have made compromises to achieve the end result ( usually layers of base for midrange accuracy )

It seems that I really do need to hear a K1000 now - hopefully one is coming to our local meet.

thanks for impressions thus far ..dB
post #15 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
Sure would love to try an orthodynamic.
But the Orthodynamic Roundup thread is too massive for me to read into with its 545 pages / 8170 posts. And besides that thread very little is written about them in here.

They don't seem to show up for sale all that often either...
If it is information you seek then I would turn to the wiki's wikiphonia or planartarium. If you need to navigate that thread - ludoo's search tool is the only sane way.

There are a few ortho's gathering dust and I am sure some will come available in the near future - sounds like Larry would be a person to PM at about this time ..dB
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