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My comparison review of Stax Omega 2 mk2, LCD-2, HD650, and M50 - Page 3

post #31 of 86

May I ask what headphone amplifier did you use to compare for your non-stat headphones?

 

Also, between headphones and speakers, which of the 2 provide a higher resolution now that you've spent sufficient time listening to a top tier headphone setup? - even when given that speakers suffer from a disadvantage due to room acoustics.

I'm curious to know because I've been wanting to purchase a speaker that's even more revealing than my current headphone and for all the other obvious reasons.

The frequency response chart of your speakers is impressive and measure exceptionally well but obviously didn't satisfy you enough judging from your purchase of the o2's - which itself together with its amp sells for as much as your studio monitors.

 

I personally own a respectable speaker setup which costed me £3000/$4500 and find room acoustics to be minimal unless I turn the volume knob really high up, when it does affect the overall sound, I find that it's mostly the bass reacting to my non-treated room.

I sit 2 metres away which might explain why.


Edited by YoungAudiophile - 11/3/10 at 6:25pm
post #32 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by YoungAudiophile View Post

May I ask what headphone amplifier did you use to compare for your non-stat headphones?

 

Also, between headphones and speakers, which of the 2 provide a higher resolution now that you've spent sufficient time listening to a top tier headphone setup? - even when given that speakers suffer from a disadvantage due to room acoustics.

I'm curious to know because I've been wanting to purchase a speaker that's even more revealing than my current headphone and for all the other obvious reasons.

The frequency response chart of your speakers is impressive and measure exceptionally well but obviously didn't satisfy you enough judging from your purchase of the o2's - which itself together with its amp sells for as much as your studio monitors.

 

I personally own a respectable speaker setup which costed me £3000/$4500 and find room acoustics to be minimal unless I turn the volume knob really high up, when it does affect the overall sound, I find that it's mostly the bass reacting to my non-treated room.

I sit 2 metres away which might explain why.

I'm just using standard pro audio gear for dynamic headphones. I've auditioned expensive amps in the past and didn't find them all that much better, while all costing more than a grand. Headphone amps are perhaps some of the most overrated and hyped piece of gear in the audio chain, and most aren't all that much better than the headphone outs of cheap pro audio gear.

 

Between headphones and speakers, it's really up to which headphones and which speakers you are comparing. I mean, if you are comparing a flagship Stax rig or a LCD-2 or even a HD650 with entry level M-Audio monitor speakers, then there's no comparison because the entry level M-Audio monitors are just grating on the nerves. But if we're talking about the same headphones going up against my Klein + Hummel O 300D's (retails close to $7,000 a pair, and costs more than twice as much as my Stax 007mk2 and 717), then it's a very different story. The O 300D's definitely kick all the headphones asses--IF you can provide the right acoustic environment for them. This is even taking into consideration that after extensive acoustic treatment and room correction with the ARC System, there are still some nulls I can't get rid of. The dimensionality, visceral impact, and vivid lushness of the O 300D's in my studio really is far superior and much more satisfying. The nulls I have are pretty narrow band so they don't really call attention to themselves when listening to musical material--it's only when I do grueling technical tests like log sweeps that I notice them. With the ARC System engaged and additional EQ'ing to further flatten the frequency response, my O 300D's really blow me away in my studio. I do plenty of A/B comparisons between my headphones and the O 300D's, including trying to get the headphones to match the speakers with crossfeed and room sims, but it's just not the same.

 

While it's true that great headphones can be very good and there's no room mode to deal with, they will never be as dimensional, visceral, or satisfying as a pair of high-end  full-range speakers. It's more than just the low frequency vibrations--it's simply that with speakers sound travels through the air and that interaction with the air molecules and the acoustic space does something that we don't experience with headphones. For critical audio work, headphones are just fine if I use crossfeed/room sims, but for a satisfying musical experience, I definitely prefer my O 300D's. If I had a room-in-a-room constructed studio where I could blast the O 300D's during any hour and no one will hear it, then I probably wouldn't ever listen to headphones again except for when I'm tracking. But I didn't have the necessary space to construct my studio to eliminate structural noise, so I must use headphones in some situations.

 

Truth is, if I wasn't using kickass monitors like the O 300D, I probably wouldn't have been so demanding in my choice of headphones--I'd probably have been happy with my old HD555 or settled on the HD650 and called it quits. It was because I wanted to find headphones that could match my O 300D's that I escalated my headphones budget and journey, and at this point, the headphones still aren't quite there, but they are already very good so I'm fine taking a break from chasing the diminishing returns for now.
 


Edited by Lunatique - 11/9/10 at 10:10am
post #33 of 86

Yes, I would say that it has two–one is that the treble is a bit etched, similar to the way that the M50 has a slightly metallic weight to its treble, and the other is that while it does have authoritative bass and a full-bodied sound, overall it doesn’t feel as connected to your body as dynamic headphones do.

 

As a long time O2 owner I noticed that these cans are very sensitive on driver and front-end. I heard the 717 when I bought them and share your observation on the treble with this amp. These cans really need tubes to present there potential. I initially used them with a 007t amp (NOS retubed) and went later for the Rudistor Reference with NOS tubes, which added significantly in dynamics, bottom low, space, detail and instrument location.

Also, I would recommend to use high-end cabling and CD player (I use Siltech G4 interlinks and Tentlabs CD player). They show what you put in, all beauty, all flaws.

post #34 of 86

Agree, properly amping the O2s makes a huge difference. I was a doubter for a long time, having enjoyed them for several years with a DIY tube amp using 6SN7s, which sounded considerably more transparent than the T1 amp but didn't radically alter their basic darkish, polite character. A new redesign since my previous post here, to further improve the regulation and increase the voltage swing, had a big effect on the sound, making it more dynamic and punchy, improving tonal qualities (more vibrant, "saturated"), extending the highs and tightening and deepening the bass. No standard dynamic or other planar phones I've heard come close. I'm curious to hear the Hifiman HE-6 though.

post #35 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

I'm just using standard pro audio gear for dynamic headphones. I've auditioned expensive amps in the past and didn't find them all that much better, while all costing more than a grand. Headphone amps are perhaps some of the most overrated and hyped piece of gear in the audio chain, and most aren't all that much better than the headphone outs of cheap pro audio gear.

 



THIS! Is exactly my finding as well! I use a TC Electronic headphone out (which has its own headphone amp build in), and it was alot of cheaper than some of the expensive tube options out there, but so far, nothing has been able to beat it. I have always wondered how far people would be able to spot the right amp, in a dark room. I think if you have a great looking amp in front of you, glowing tube's, 2000$ out of your pocket, you might be easily tempted to think it sounds much better. Ofcourse I could be wrong.

post #36 of 86
Thread Starter 

Here's something else to think about regarding headphone amps. While some are able to maybe give a more refined sound, tighten up the bass, or smooth out the treble, or clear up the stereo imaging or whatever, the really important point is simply this--most headphones (and speaker setups in typical acoustic spaces) have skewed enough frequency response that no headphone amp could ever come close to "fixing." The fact is, many headphones have peaks and valleys in their frequency response of up to 6dB or more, and ones in the 3dB range are even more common.

 

Headphone amps are not EQ units. They were never meant to be used that way, yet too many people keep on buying amps as if they are pre-configured fixed settings EQ units with a volume knob. Seriously, just get a standard pro audio headphone amp, which costs less than $100 (and they sound totally fine, unless you get a lemon), and then use a quality EQ (software or hardware) to address your headphone's idiosyncratic issues with frequency response. You'll find that often stereo imaging issues are also tied to frequency response because boosting or cutting certain frequencies will make certain instruments become more or less clear in the stereo field, as well as pull them close or push them further back in the soundstage.


Edited by Lunatique - 11/21/10 at 2:02am
post #37 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vvanrij View Post

THIS! Is exactly my finding as well! I use a TC Electronic headphone out (which has its own headphone amp build in), and it was alot of cheaper than some of the expensive tube options out there, but so far, nothing has been able to beat it. I have always wondered how far people would be able to spot the right amp, in a dark room. I think if you have a great looking amp in front of you, glowing tube's, 2000$ out of your pocket, you might be easily tempted to think it sounds much better. Ofcourse I could be wrong.


I think the fact you're saying this as the owner of the Phonitor really drives the point home. While some headfier like to turn their noses up at the Phonitor, saying it's boring or whatever, it is a piece of high-quality professional audio gear, and it is meant to sound neutral and transparent--good enough for pro audio mastering tasks. If you're not hearing the Phonitor kicking the Konnekt 8's ass, and the Phonitor costs more than a grand, then there really isn't much more to say, is there? I certainly didn't hear anything earth-shattering when I auditioned the Phonitor. And if some people prefer esoteric boutique headphone amps that aren't neutral like the Phonitor, then at least realize that the preference is for a more colored/pleasant sound as opposed to professional audio transparency.

post #38 of 86

Actually the Phonitor is an amp that does make a difference (I'm not just saying this because i'm selling it), it did wonder's for my normal dynamic headphones, and I just couldn't bear to listen to headphones without its cross-feed functions. However I am now going over to an all AKG K1000 setup. If I can sell it I might check out the LCD-2, but I'm not sure, since my biggest problem with headphone's is the extreme left-right projection of sound (super-stereo). 

 

I did listened to a lot of 'Hi-fi' headphone amplifier's, and I could only hear difference's if I really really focused on it, and then, another good question is, were they improvements? I will never underestimate the power of tube's, as I am a guitar player, but when people just talk about 'tube warmth' without overdriving it.... a SS can sound just as warm, and a Tube amp just as cold. The glow and temperature have nothing to do with the signal processing.

 

I did notice I prefer studio equipment over Hi-fi equipment, if only in a bang for the buck kind of way. I'm not saying all Hi-fi is crap, not even close. But there are definitely some products out there that are just into tricking people.


Edited by vvanrij - 11/21/10 at 2:37am
post #39 of 86

I still think you should try the Joseph Grado HP1000, Lunatique.  I have had the same experience with headphones, and my goal has even been the same.  I got into headphones owning, and loving my Mackie HR624 Monitors, and while they certainly don't match yours, they are amazing speakers IMO.  Not one part of the spectrum stands out above any other, and when I listen to music with them, I'm listening to the whole spectrum, not just treble with some midrange and bass peaks thrown in.  They are warm and natural, but also exacting and precise, or to put it more accurately, they don't sound like anything at all.  Anyways, the Mackies have been my reference to compare all my headphones to and the HP1000 is the only headphone I've ever heard that matches them.  I would be willing to bet they would do it for you as well.  Except I imagine your speakers have more extended bass. 

 

They are out of production like you said before, but that also means that you won't loose anything if you buy and sell them-and I've heard a lot of headphones at meets and through buying and selling.  Just a thought, I'd love to hear your impressions.  It's too bad you're on the other side of the world.

post #40 of 86

Lunatique, have you auditioned the HD800 on your headphone journey? I'd be interested in your impressions.

 

Please ignore the banned sign. I am.


Edited by MrSpenkelink - 11/21/10 at 7:53am
post #41 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEar View Post

Yes, I would say that it has two–one is that the treble is a bit etched, similar to the way that the M50 has a slightly metallic weight to its treble, and the other is that while it does have authoritative bass and a full-bodied sound, overall it doesn’t feel as connected to your body as dynamic headphones do.

 

As a long time O2 owner I noticed that these cans are very sensitive on driver and front-end. I heard the 717 when I bought them and share your observation on the treble with this amp. These cans really need tubes to present there potential. I initially used them with a 007t amp (NOS retubed) and went later for the Rudistor Reference with NOS tubes, which added significantly in dynamics, bottom low, space, detail and instrument location.

Also, I would recommend to use high-end cabling and CD player (I use Siltech G4 interlinks and Tentlabs CD player). They show what you put in, all beauty, all flaws.


I agree  they are very sensitive indeed. Cable can make huge impact on the overall sound. I chose a less costly way to synergise all equipments in the setup by asking an experienced DIYer to tweak them to my liking.
 


Edited by hentai - 11/21/10 at 8:58am
post #42 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post

I still think you should try the Joseph Grado HP1000, Lunatique.


If I happen to come across them, I will, but I'm pretty much done going out of my way for headphones at this point, unless it's something very compelling, with vast number of testimonials that strongly favors it over the headphones I currently have, and is still in production, or at least easy to find second hand and the price isn't jacked up (beyond its original value).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrSpenkelink View Post

Lunatique, have you auditioned the HD800 on your headphone journey? I'd be interested in your impressions.

 


Yes I have, and it didn't impress me all that much. It's nice, but it doesn't have authoritative bass response that sounds like a full-range speaker system with a subwoofer. In fact the bass is probably about the same or a bit leaner than the HD650, and I already find the HD650 a bit lean in the sub-bass presence. The HD800 also sounded a bit artificial because the detail and clarity didn't sound that natural to me. I really do have to a more comprehensive test on it in my own studio in order to really assess it completely, but it'll never happen because I didn't like it enough (especially considering the price) to ever have it in my studio.


Edited by Lunatique - 11/25/10 at 8:46pm
post #43 of 86

^ Fair enough. Thanks for your reply.

post #44 of 86

Great Review,

 

I have been thinking about Stax and LCD-2. The LCD2's are more in my price range. It sounds like you're happy with them.

 

Has anything changed on your thoughts between your Stax gear and the LCD2's since this review?

 

Thanks again

post #45 of 86
Thread Starter 

sperandeo - I use my LCD-2 far more than I use the Stax rig, or various reasons.

 

1) When I'm not thinking about it and just casually grab a headphone off my headphone stand to watch a movie, play a game, or listen to music, I grab the LCD-2 because it's more satisfying than the HD650 overall, and it doesn't require me to have to turn on an additional amp like the Stax does.

 

2) When I'm using headphones to do critical audio work, I alternate between the LCD-2 and the HD650. The LCD-2 is used to make sure the overall balance and bass frequencies are mixed properly, and the HD650 is used to make sure the mids are okay. The Stax is only used in this context as a third opinion, to make sure that my mix sounds good on any headphone or speaker, but I could easily use any other headphone for additional opinion. I use the Stax because it's on the headphone stand and all my other headphones I've put away in the closet until I need them for specific tasks like tracking.

 

3) When I'm using headphones for more focused leisure listening sessions, then it's a toss up between the Stax and the LCD-2.

 

4) If I ever need to sell something due to money problems, the Stax will be the first to go. The LCD-2 I'll never sell, unless things get really, really bad and too much as at stake. The M50 I'll never sell (because I need at least one pair of closed headphones for tracking), and it's worth almost nothing anyway. I would sell anything else in my collection without caring too much about it. But the reality is, if by the time you are near middle-age and you still can't manage your finances properly and need to sell off stuff to make ends meet, then you've got a lot more serious problems than deciding which headphones to sell/keep.

 

5) I really don't use the Stax rig all that much--maybe 10% of the time. The LCD-2 about 70% of the time. The HD650 about 20% of the time. The M50 only comes out when I need to do tracking. The W3 only when I go out with the mp3 player. The others I pretty much never use.

 

Would I use the Stax rig more if it didn't involve an extra amp to turn on or off? Probably. Seems trivial--that dealing with an extra amp would be an issue, but because the LCD-2 already sounds so good, I really couldn't be bothered to make that extra effort. The only time when I feel like I really want to turn the Stax rig on is when I'm in a particular mood where I want to hear the special presentation of the Stax rig. So basically the Stax rig is an luxury item that's rarely use in daily life. Sort of like if you had more than one car. The LCD-2 is like a practical but very high quality everyday car, and the Stax is like that exotic sports car that you rarely drive and keep in the garage most of the time.

 

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