I am forever spoiled by the SR-009, and LFF's remasters.
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I am forever spoiled by the SR-009, and LFF's remasters.
Purrin, thanks for putting on a great meet! It was more than I expected. All the guys brought awesome gear and my wallet does not thank you! Special thanks to Audeze for bringing there awesome LCD3! LFF your Fostex T50RP's are absolutely sick, my next headphone purchase for sure. If you haven't heard them you definitely miss out! Don, AKG 1000's epic! Your 2A3 prototype amp had awesome unbelievable synergy with the 2 pairs of HD-800's. Draygonn with the W2 what a beauty! THE EPIC OF EPIC's STAX 009!!!! I could go on and on about all the wonderful gear everyone brought. Ocswing,xxhaxx,Igotyofire,turimbar1, nice meeting you guys. Thank you all for letting me connect my Q701's to all your great gear! It was a blast!
Thanks to Audeze who attended the meet and brought the LCD3s and LCD2r2 along with them. Also thanks to Eddie Current who lent us the 2A3 and Super 7 amps. I post some impressions a bit later.
But first a few pix:
Meet setup Donald North's 2A3 and Sonic Frontiers CD Player
BHSE / Dynahi - bunch of 'stat headphones Accuphase CD Player and BHSE
Eddie Current 2A3 and Super 7 with Bifrost on top Red Wine Audio amp powering LCD3
Balancing Act and PerfectWave DAC Bottlehead Crack and LFF's Grado PS1/HP1000 hybrid
Some Schitt AGD DAC/amp combo
lots o nice gear! thanks purrin!
Stax SR-009. To see it is to love it. It is shockingly well-built with a pricetag to mach. While its virtues are already well known, it is difficult to comprehend without listening first-hand.
It is certainly the clearest, fastest, most resolved window into the recording one can buy today, provided an amp up to the task. On the other hand, I don't see SR-009 totally replacing the SR-007, which can go louder without completely dissecting a poor recording into oblivion like SR-009 can, which in turn shines for low-level listening with microdynamics and resolution fully intact. SR-007 does render with more girth, bloom, smoothness, and forgiveness, which one needs sometimes.
LCD3. After listening to LCD3, switching to LCD2 almost it made it sound thin and bassless! I believe the abundant and rich bass response is creating most of the additional
"air" I hear throughout the ranges with LCD3, similar to how speakers with great bass foundation gives you more air in the soundstage. The fact its bass is so rich and impactful
without obscuring the ranges above is a feat indeed.
Blue Hawaii SE built by Spritzer. What can one say? If you owns SR-009 or SR-007, one can hardly do better. I did notice SR-007 required more turn of the volume knob than SR-009
for the same volume level.
Donald North Audio 2A3, launching in February. There was a modded Senn HD580 (foam removed and recabled with solid core copper), when powered by this 2A3 amp, that was
simply way too good to be true. While I regard SR-009/BHSE with awe, justifiably so, the modded HD580/2A3 combo was probably still the most enjoyable *musical* experience
for me at the meet. Such life, richness, air, and impact without sounding overly resolute. Very nice.. I grabbed a stock HD600, which was not as transparent as the defoamed HD580, so I presume one can defoam the HD600, buy this 2A3 amp and be done with this whole headphone thing.
KGSS. Personally I thought SR-007 sounded more natural with KGSS than SR-009. Then again, I'm a tube guy and would run SR-009 with tubes somewhere.
Modded Fostex T50RP sounded stupendous. Great bass presence and solidity to sound all over the ranges. Midrange was not veiled or dull and was detailed enough out of several
Balancing Act. Sounded very authoritative and rich with that characteristic 300B midrange "magic" without any sacrifice in bass.
Eddie Current 2A3 version had the 2A3 sound spades, which I love. I use 2A3 for my speakers for its neutrality, immediacy, and clarity, which is the case here as well. Some
may "prefer" the 300B signature, which is why they make both!
Super 7 prototype using 7 6SN7 tubes. Surprisingly powerful and resolute, especially through the balanced output. It's obviously a prototype judging by the cardboard top cover.,
AT AD2000. Powerful bass and overall even-sounding. I can see how some will love these for rock, pop, etc.
HD800 and Grado HP1000. HD800 still sounded like HD800, and people who love their sound will not get it elsewhere and vice versa for those who don't quite get them. I still think
HP1000 were Grado's best 'phones and wish I had never sold mine.
The very notion of this is retarded. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Those who prefer or appreciate electrostatics will like the SR009. Those who prefer or appreciate the strengths of the LCD2 will like the LCD3 even more. If we really want to get down to it: the LCD3 will not be replacing the SR009. The SR009, properly powered, is simply on another level in terms on clarity, speed, and transient response. At this rate, it won't be until the LCD6 or 7 until Audeze gets close. The LCD3 has it's own strengths however, particularly with low bass power. I'm going to focus more on the LCD3 because it seems to be of interest to more people.
This SR009 needs to be properly powered. My initial assessment was that it does OK with inferior amplification such as the SRM323. This is true for low volume levels. Once you turn the volume up, the 009 struggles on inferior amps. The BHSE and to a slightly lesser extent, the KGSS hold their own in powering the 009. I didn't not find the 009 to be thin or bright sounding from n3rdling's Accuphase/BHSE or dougquaid's PWD/KGSS. The sound signature out of these rigs reminded me of a properly sourced and powered UERM IEM: neutral, not thin, not bright, not cold, not bass deficient, but neutral.
I actually like the LCD3. This is indeed special because readers of my pre-measurement impressions in the CSD thread will note that I pretty much dislike 80% of what's out there. I heard the LCD3 out of several rigs, and also out of my PWD/BA. I tried out a few different driver tubes too get a good match. The tonal balance is similar to the LCDr2, but with a much more linear frequency response. Whereas the LCD2r2 is still a little rough in the treble, the LCD3 is smooth and relaxed. The big question for me is still whether it can better extract low level information. I got a sense of that indeed it would toward the end of the meet when things started to quiet down. Because the LCD3 is similar in tonal balance to the HD650, it does require a quieter background environment than say an HD800 to ascertain this attribute. I wish I had it longer because the Audeze guys had to leave a bit early.
Now I'm not about the proclaim the LCD3 as the best dynamic headphone ever. I would prefer to be conservative and take some time to first tweak my setup around it. Some people know that I really like the HD800 (at least the modded version that drops the treble down 3db) and built my setup around it. Even then, the HD800 can only be "tolerable" (in terms of brightness) with certain material; so I feel the LCD3 would be an excellent complement to the HD800 where I could just relax. I didn't note any soundstage issues with the LCD3. The soundstage thing is not a priority for me, and it's more a matter of icing-on-the-cake then necessity. It could also be a matter that the BA goes some ways to make the soundstage issue moot.
I feel the LCD3 as an incremental step from the LCD2r2, which was itself an incremental step from the LCD2r1. The LCD3 is slightly faster, slightly clearer, slightly more extended and much more linear and smooth in the treble region. The improved linearity is the one I most welcome. I also feel that the bass is more coherent. Do I want to pay $1945 for it? No. I want to pay $1445 for it. But I also want to pay $3200 for the SR009 and $1200 for the HD800. So I guess it sucks to be me.
BTW I'm on the list to get one.
P.S. The LCD3 has thicker more squishy pads. The headphone feels comfortable for me. The issues I had with the LCD2r1 with too much force clamping on the side of my head are no longer there. The LCD3 also seems lighter, although I don't know if it's because of better distribution of weight.
Great review, Purrin, and congrats on what looks like a fantastic meet. I'm sorry I couldn't make this one, but hope to see you at the Feb meet. I'm impressed that you got both the Audeze and Eddie Current guys to show up. The only thing that seemed to be missing there was an Apex Pinnacle
Your assessment of the LCD3 sounds fair and reasonable, and matches what I'd guess the performance to be like. If the treble was improved in the way you described, I may end up hunting down a pair instead of waiting for the LCD2 R2 market to bottom out. If it does a good job at pulling even subtle details out of recordings and has less of a dark character than the LCD2 R2, then I'd consider it a good evolution of the LCD2 R2. Your BA even made Grados take on a new life, so I wonder how much of it was the amp vs. the innate character of the headphones.
Glad to hear the SR009 paired well with the BHSE. I may end up making the SR009 my next headphone purchase, since someone has been prodding me for my SR007s :) If you considered the SR009 to be much better with the BHSE and KGSS, I'm really looking forward to hearing them again as we all upgrade our stat rigs.
Did the DIY T2 show up?
Thanks Marv for putting this together, was great fun. :)
Didn't listen to that much:
AD2000: A bit disappointing to me. I'd never heard these before and was hoping the hype from a couple of members was warranted, but they were pretty average sounding to me. Really grainy sounding which was annoying.
LFF's modded T50RPs: Highlight of the meet for me personally. Best ortho I've ever heard, only ortho that has a good amount of air and a nice soundstage. This sounded more like an open headphone really...it totally caught me off gaurd. Tonal balance was fantastic, very similar to the SR009 but wasn't as refined/fast/open.
LCD3: I don't have much of a reaction to this headphone. Sounded more balanced than the LCD2rev1 I had (haven't heard rev2). Overall good but not a giant killer by any means in my mind. I was thinking of buying one but am no longer interested.
It was nice seeing all you guys, you were all fun to talk to. Cya next time :)
If the treble was improved in the way you described, I may end up hunting down a pair instead of waiting for the LCD2 R2 market to bottom out. If it does a good job at pulling even subtle details out of recordings and has less of a dark character than the LCD2 R2, then I'd consider it a good evolution of the LCD2 R2. Your BA even made Grados take on a new life, so I wonder how much of it was the amp vs. the innate character of the headphones.
I would consider the LCD3 to be the same in tonal balance to the LCD2r2, not necessarily less dark; although the LCD3 does have a little more air than the r2. The r2 still has some treble irregularities, and this may actually lead one to experience the r2 as actually sounding brighter or less veiled than the LCD3, but to me this is brighter in a worse way. I'm going to try to hook up with the Audeze guys to get another listen. I got most of my listening in during the peak hours of the meet where things were pretty noisy. As I said, I started to hear some promising things in terms of low level information retrieval when things quieted down a little.
You may not, but I will. The LCD3 is the best dynamic headphone ever. In fact, the LCD3 is so good, I already found a new buyer for my Stax rig and will likely be taking a break from the headphone community, as there will not be any more improvements to sound quality until the next Audeze incarnation. Having heard the R-10, the L3000s, and the HE90s, and knowing how ridiculously the LCD3 trounces over either of them... I'd be perfectly willing to spend upwards of $14450 for these (I don't make typos). My dedication to the greatness that is the LCD3 is exactly 10 times that of yours.
I've never heard angels sing, but I'd fully expect it to sound like the exquisite tones I heard today when loading up a square wave sweep. If you thought one square wave measured well on the LCD3, just imagine how incredible it is when EVERY square wave in the human audio spectrum is fed to you one after another. As for regular music, I've never heard music played so incredibly well as I did on the LCD3 for the 25 seconds I was allowed to use them before one of the reps took them from me as I was listening to them. Second to the painfully obvious, these were the second greatest 25 seconds of my life.
Purrin, I hope you and I receive our pre-order LCD3s on the same day and power them up for the first time together. The magnitude of this event would be so great, the heavens will likely open up and happiness will flow freely unto the land until the people have drunk their fill. Happiness and beer.