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SR-404 LE or high-end Grado?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am deciding between two combination Lynx ONE -> T1 -> SR-404 LE or MS-Pro Ulti (or GS1000i, PS1000 will consider) with my current source ESI Juli@ as transport for quality dac and solid state amp which will be modified on Grado character, so I expect mellower fuller richer tones and tipically Grado action sound which I like.

I listen almost everything but the most melodic metal, pop, older music, music with guitars violins pianos etc..

There are two facts:
1) I am a big Grado fan. The way how they can bring the emotion into the music is almost perfect for me. I also like their energy, fun factor, it pull me into the music.
I would say another headphones which I know I like is Westone. It is of course more smoother and warmer but have similar emphasis instruments and also perfect energy and very present vocals. This preferences is compelling me even change my JH13 for ES3X.

2) I have never heard Stax, so I can win in lottery with them or I can be a little dissapoint that perhabs it will be too much neutral for me or I will miss fun factor or emotion.. who know I can only guess. I trust my ears and want only trust my ears but I really dont have chance try them.

So if there is anybody with both similar combination and have good source and is fanboy Stax's and Grado's. His opinion could be a little helpful for me.

Thanks
post #2 of 27
Prague..one of my favorite cities and restaurants! The quaint little place built in the old underground brick wine cellar named Flambe.

I am a big Grado fan and have had the GS1000 and PS1000. The 404LE with a good STAX amp is better in all regards. More accurate, more detailed, more air, better soundstage, and more tonally accurate.

I had not been a STAX fan until I recently heard their modern flagship offerings. After that, I sold all my dynamic headphones and converted to 100% electrostatic cans.
post #3 of 27
The Stax play in the high-end of the chain, ultra-detailed, spatial, natural and musical. IMO the grado's dont play in this league....
post #4 of 27
Go used and you'll be able to get most of the costs back. This of course is just as true for the Stax as Grado route.

I sold my dynamics (HD650/RS1i/HF2) after getting the T1/404LE, and I don't seem to be the only one
post #5 of 27
Greetings from Frydek-Mistek knopi. Your searching is very interested. I dont know sound of Grado. But I like to hear this models too. Pleas where is possible in Czech listen this models? I think its problem. Maybe we may asking on our forums....
post #6 of 27
I personally own a Ear+ HD and vintage RS-1 and recently tried my friend's T1+404LE combination. Although his source was better, the Stax is clearly on a different league from my Grado. The clarity, transparency and detail just outclasses it easily. The only thing that you might miss would be the sheer rocking feeling you get from listening to a Grado. But seeing your music choice, I would definitely recommend the Stax combination.
post #7 of 27
There is also the Lambda Signature or other Lambdas like the SR-202 which are not as good as the 404LE but not that far off either and they might give better bang for the buck with the T1.
post #8 of 27
i just finished putting together my first stax setup....all i can say is W O W ......

Right now im using a SRM-1 MKII with a pair of Lambda pros. Im completely in love with this setup right now...its wonderful for classic, jazz, light rock....its ok with hardcore rock with distortion. I have to say its a huge difference between these and dynamic, hell i even sold my HD650s to start this up.

Ive heard the 404LE and they are really great also....the lambda pros are close...very close...just missing that warmer sound.

If you have a STAX amp, i would get the 404LE...if you have a SE amp now...then i would get some grado's.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinan View Post
Prague..one of my favorite cities and restaurants! The quaint little place built in the old underground brick wine cellar named Flambe.

I am a big Grado fan and have had the GS1000 and PS1000. The 404LE with a good STAX amp is better in all regards. More accurate, more detailed, more air, better soundstage, and more tonally accurate.

I had not been a STAX fan until I recently heard their modern flagship offerings. After that, I sold all my dynamic headphones and converted to 100% electrostatic cans.
Thank you for your kind words definitely you are not first. I appreciate your opinion and I am glad you finded ideal headphone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paaj View Post
Go used and you'll be able to get most of the costs back. This of course is just as true for the Stax as Grado route.

I sold my dynamics (HD650/RS1i/HF2) after getting the T1/404LE, and I don't seem to be the only one
I didn't like much headphone which you mentioned. HF2 wasn't close to the even stock MS-Pro for me and HD650 had too much bass and warm sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pasul View Post
Greetings from Frydek-Mistek knopi. Your searching is very interested. I dont know sound of Grado. But I like to hear this models too. Pleas where is possible in Czech listen this models? I think its problem. Maybe we may asking on our forums....
Nice to see one of the finest headfier from our country here, welcome! you got pm'ed on your question.


Hm I am surprised with this sovereign opinions. I was almost fully decided for Grado but this quite confused me. I will have to try 404le personal otherwise there is no way how I can do inteligent judgement.
post #10 of 27
Hm, I must say that I'm not such an Estat fanboy. Most stuff I tried was technically brilliant (resulution, dynamics, pace), but it lacked kickbass and was boring boring boring. No issue for classical, ambient or softish mainstream stuff, but a severe one for any music with rythmic elements. The 303/404 were the worst in that respect, but I also kept the mighty O2 as kind of HD595 in high res in memory.

The only estats I liked were the old Lambda Pro from the 80's and one "Spritzermodded" actual 404 model. The Pros can be got cheap from Ebay, but you need tinkering abilities and a bit luck to make yourself a good one.

The "LTD" of the 404 may be a different creature though. Some of my buddies in my german home forum were quite pleased with that thing, they stated it was darker & closer to the O2 punch than the normal 404. I have no personal experience with the LTD.

Edit: One review incl. a 303 and a modded MS Pro I did last year which hopefully indicates what I mean: Link
post #11 of 27
Go for Stax)greetings from Slovakia
post #12 of 27
I've had the Omega II's (around a year) and had them at the same time as the R10's (for about the same period of time) and had all the top Grados on hand (PS-1000's were not yet released).

Ultimately the sound is different between electrostatics and dynamic headphones. A closer symbiosis of the two is an orthodynamic. Conveniently, there are a few modern issues of this tech, one I'm familiar with are the Hifiman HE-5's. They offer some of the traits those above are enumerating about electrostats, but they have a warmer fuller sound and some of the fun and excitement of a Grado.

The problem with comparing electros to dynamics is that fundamentally they sound different. Personally, I find all electrostatic headphones (and speakers) sound fake. There are many appealing aspects to the sound, the speed, the air, the ambiance and the soundstage, but ultimately I'm never convinced I'm listening to something real. I always come away with a feeling that I've heard machines trying to be human. Metallic etchings of what should have been music. Basically, a whole lot of sound, but rarely any real emotion. I've tried everything from Stax and I even had the HE60's along for a ride with the Omega II's (maybe 4-6 months together) and if I had to choose one, I would go with the Omega II's every time. If I had to choose an electrostatic, it would be the Omega II's alone (or I suppose the I's which are said to be even better). No other Stax came close in presentation and if I had to live with a "fake" sound, I would want it to be the gosh darned best fake sound possible. To those who champion the electrostatic presentation, I come across as being quite daft. To each his own. I will say that I am VERY pleased I had never plunked down the cash without listening first because I would have been very disappointed. I had a very privileged experience having so many great headphones for such a lengthy audition. Something few people will ever get to do without spending their own money. Still, having had that experience, the key for me is: listen before buying. Or buy with a 30 day money back guarantee.

One major advantage of staying with dynamics is that one good amp is all ones needs. Unless you go all in with electrostats, you must own both a dynamic and an electrostatic amp. If you try out the orthodynamics, you can get away with using a good dynamic amp, reducing the cash output.
post #13 of 27
I think Zanth said it really well, stats and dynamic headphones have fundamentally different sound. You will never know if you'll like the stats sound before you've tried it.

Grado seems to be the one you're looking for, but I suggest going with the Stax or maybe something orthodynamics just to see whether you'll like them or not. Depending on what you're looking for, stats and orthos can be leaps and bounds above dynamics of the same price.

I like all cheap orthos and all stats I've tried (SR202,SR404, ESP950), and IMO the PS1000 is ridiculously overpriced.
post #14 of 27
Tom, your question is Stax or Grados?

this is the same question for me and it dates all the way back to 1972.

Actually your question is Estat or Grados and it is kind like solid state amps or tube amps and Horn speakers like Klipsh or Electrostatic speakers like Quads, Logans Acoustats etc.

From our private discussions I will guess the answer for you is Grados (Music Pro with distancers).

"Zanth" and "Nickchen" have given you the most comprehensive answers. And correctly states that you will have to listen to an estat to decide fro yourself.

I must point out to you that there are many other "old-timers" that agree with them on the statement that estats are not engaging despite their speed and resolution. I cannot figure this out myself. In addition the O2 is also not engaging despite its unique ability to portray a holographic image of individual voices and instruments.

The only thing I may add is that there are some people like me and perhaps like you that change their mind over time and tend to go back and forth on their preferences

I am also tempted to guess that the custom Westone or the Wetone 3x with Um56 may be the best for you as I find that "Headphoneaddict" whose descriptions are almost right on the money for me finds them perfect.

I would like to ask "Zanth" to help a bit with his opinion of the R-10 and Audio Technica and this is because you have indicated in the past that you like the midrange of the Audio Technica

Finally I would like to say that the weak point of electrostats is their ability to portray the dynamic range
associated with live music the very thing that allows all of us to distinguish within seconds "live" from "canned" music even from a distance and even when the live music is played back from a "low-fi" system and the "canned" from an elaborate system.

I do not know how the modern "loudness war" recorded music is affecting this recently, but I have a feeling that it helps the etats phones more than the dynamic ones.
post #15 of 27
I have to say, I preferred the Lambdas I heard over the O2s with Stax amps. If you want involving electrostats, they are definitely the way to go, with one of the large Stax amps, such as a T1 or better. Unlike Zanth, I feel they sound more "real" than dynamic headphones, even the HD-800s to some degree.
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