Originally Posted by statfi
I just "stumbled" on this thread as it was in the Head-Fi Subscription Update email I got. I have (lazily) not digested much of the thread, but I'll ask anyway, in a couple of paragraphs.
I find the transient fidelity of Stax 009s superior to *any* loudspeaker-based system I have heard. Top-of-the-line Wilson's get close, but still do not match it. By "transient fidelity" I mean the ability to, on the one hand, hear the "action" of sources of music from multiple bows on multiple strings to vocal cords being excited by air from well-tensioned lungs, and on the other hand, to not hear boxes with thin diaphragms in them sitting in a small room (compared to a concert hall).
The 009s tend to bring me into the recording venue, particularly with a well miked recording, e.g., something done by Wilkinson, and do a fair but not perfect job of that. I would definitely like to have an even better illusion of being put into the recording venue. The goal of surround sound, with loudspeakers, is to bring the music into your venue, which I do not want: no room anyone has matches any of the venues I have on recordings in my collection. I have swallowed the headphone gospel hook line and sinker: Beam me in, Staxie.
Does the SVS try to match the whole impulse response of the loudspeaker system used to calibrate the headphone system, or does it "merely" try to match time delays of signals reaching my ear canals? I would not want the impulse responses of my Stax degraded by matching any loudspeakers in a room. The IR sensor for head position seems particularly promising in this regard, I suspect it supplies a key degree of freedom lost in listening through headphones: motion of the head/ears in the sound field.
I do understand what you are saying about the difference between headphones like the 009's vs. a high end speaker system.
I think what you really want are well made binaural recordings. This would recreate the sound of the actual venue where the performance was recorded and be reproduced very accurately on your Stax 009's. No speakers can do that as well as a high end pair of headphones.
However, the reality is that you are then very limited in terms of content. (Too bad Wilkinson didn't make binaural recordings...) So what are your options? Listening to conventional stereo music.
To me, headphone listening on well recorded music can deliver detail and accuracy, but it can't even come close to reproducing the sound that one would have heard if you were listening to the performance live. Why? Because the imaging on headphones with standard stereo recordings stays completely within my head between my ears. To me, the is very unnatural sounding. Sure you can hear lots of detail and great speed and frequency response, but the sound is all in my head. (I don't really understand when people talk about how well a pair of headphones images. I guess it works for some people.)
So, with speakers, at least you can get the sound coming from in front of you rather than in your head. To me, that sounds closer to a live performance. Sure, it's not perfect, but on a very high end system set up well in a great room, the sound can seem much more like a live performance than headphones could ever give me.
The Realiser when done properly will VERY accurately reproduce the sound of a speaker system and room. It's not "matching" anything or synthesizing anything. It's taking the measured speaker sound and room acoustics and applying that to the sound source. So, with a good measurement and a pair of Stax 009, you would probably find it hard to tell the difference between sound being played back from the speakers vs. the sound from the Realiser and headphones. "What You Heard is What You Get" in terms of sound. (except for bass energy)
So, if you don't like the sound of the speakers measured, then you won't like it through the Realiser either since they will be the same. However, if you think the Wilson Alexandria XLF's come close to the sound you're looking for, then you can measure a pair of XLF's and then you would "have" the sound of the XLF's without buying a pair. (At $250,000 a pair though, the owner/store may charge you a lot to "steal" the sound of their speakers!)
If you are so satisfied with the sound from your Stax, then why any interest in the Realiser? I think even for people who love headphone listening, after hearing the Realiser, they are really interested in getting the sound out of their head and out in front of them.
For me I never really liked headphone listening, but loved the convenience and flexibility of headphones. The Realiser has given me the best of both worlds.