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Returning to headfi - Electrostatic Rig suggestions  

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 

Hi all

 

After 3-4 years of absence I have recently returned to headfi and have been reminded what a wonderful forum it is. I have been concentrating on 2 channel audio for last few years but would now like to build an electrostatic rig and need your help. 

 

I currently own an MPX Slam and Grado 325is and want to upgrade. I will likely keep the MPX and perhaps pair it with better headphones - maybe Senn 800s - but having been reading the forums it seems a good electrostatic rig is hard to beat. 

 

My musical preferences are jazz, blues, female acoustics, acoustic guitar and classical. 

 

With a budget of no more than $10,000 and preferably more towards half of this what do you think are the best options? From my research a Stax 007 works well with the Woo Audio GES or WES and I guess the 009s with the WES would be some combination but this would exceed or be very close to my limit. 

 

To make things more complicated should I also consider a high end non electrostatic rig such as a Woo WA5 with some Senn 800s or Audeze or HI6s?

 

As I live in Brazil auditioning is difficult but there is so much experience within these forums that I believe I can make a very informed choice. 

 

Thanks in advance

 

James

post #2 of 60

Welcome back to the Headfi forum. If you are considering upgrading it would seem to me that you are in the right direction as far as research. Both the dynamic and Electrostatic choices would be most gratifying sound pleasure. The WA5 offers many options to so many different lo/hi impedance phones and most certainly one of the few headphone amps that would successfully power the hard to drive HE6 from the K1000 output jack.

 

As to the Electrostatic phones the GES is a little under power to drive the 007 and the WES would be great synergy with the bright sounding 009 being that the WES is considered more of a warm sounding amp.

 

If you have time and can wait for the BHSE than this would be a better match for the dark sounding 007 and more suited for the brighter presentation of the Blue Hawaii.

 

Another consideration would be to obtain a Woo Audio WEE and drive your Electrostatic phones in conjunction with a WA5; this would help your budget and having both applications.

 

Enjoy music!

post #3 of 60

For 5K$ then a SR-007 and a KGSS or KGSSHV is the best you can do.  Works brilliantly with the SR-009 as well. 

 

For dynamic headphones I'd stay far away from the WA5.  I'm not a fan of many 300B based amps but the WA5 is especially bad.  High output impedance would work well with the HD800 but the ortho's need an amp that is stable into the given load and a PSU cable of dealing with the back emf.  Very few commercial tube amps can deal with this. 

post #4 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

Hi all

 

After 3-4 years of absence I have recently returned to headfi and have been reminded what a wonderful forum it is. I have been concentrating on 2 channel audio for last few years but would now like to build an electrostatic rig and need your help. 

 

I currently own an MPX Slam and Grado 325is and want to upgrade. I will likely keep the MPX and perhaps pair it with better headphones - maybe Senn 800s - but having been reading the forums it seems a good electrostatic rig is hard to beat. 

 

My musical preferences are jazz, blues, female acoustics, acoustic guitar and classical. 

 

With a budget of no more than $10,000 and preferably more towards half of this what do you think are the best options? From my research a Stax 007 works well with the Woo Audio GES or WES and I guess the 009s with the WES would be some combination but this would exceed or be very close to my limit. 

 

To make things more complicated should I also consider a high end non electrostatic rig such as a Woo WA5 with some Senn 800s or Audeze or HI6s?

 

As I live in Brazil auditioning is difficult but there is so much experience within these forums that I believe I can make a very informed choice. 

 

Thanks in advance

 

James

 

hi James,

 

last year i acquired a solid state Stax amp, the SRM-717, and O2 Mk1's as well as the 009's. so far they cannot touch my 2-channel system at all.......although the 009's do get in the ballpark in terms of lack of veiling.

 

i've ordered both the BHSE and the Aristeaus amps, and should have both within a month or so. i also purchased some NOS metal base Philips EL-34's for the BHSE. my plan is to get all this stuff, listen, and keep what moves me.

 

anyway; since you are looking at the same gear i thought i'd throw in my 2 cents.

 

best regards,

 

Mike

 


Edited by Mossback - 1/29/12 at 11:02am
post #5 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

Hi all

 

After 3-4 years of absence I have recently returned to headfi and have been reminded what a wonderful forum it is. I have been concentrating on 2 channel audio for last few years but would now like to build an electrostatic rig and need your help. 

 

I currently own an MPX Slam and Grado 325is and want to upgrade. I will likely keep the MPX and perhaps pair it with better headphones - maybe Senn 800s - but having been reading the forums it seems a good electrostatic rig is hard to beat. 

 

My musical preferences are jazz, blues, female acoustics, acoustic guitar and classical. 

 

With a budget of no more than $10,000 and preferably more towards half of this what do you think are the best options? From my research a Stax 007 works well with the Woo Audio GES or WES and I guess the 009s with the WES would be some combination but this would exceed or be very close to my limit. 

 

To make things more complicated should I also consider a high end non electrostatic rig such as a Woo WA5 with some Senn 800s or Audeze or HI6s?

 

As I live in Brazil auditioning is difficult but there is so much experience within these forums that I believe I can make a very informed choice. 

 

Thanks in advance

 

James

Welcome back to the forum.

 

Suggest you get in touch with Erico. http://www.head-fi.org/u/143754/ericohgb

 

He's in your neck of the woods and has the O2, 009, WES, Audeze LCD-2, LCD-3, Cavalli LIquid FIre and a few more things. He's also got an incoming BHSE and a Cavalli Liquid Lightning. Try and coerce him into a mini meet, he's a nice chap.

 

 


 

 


Edited by sachu - 1/29/12 at 11:36am
post #6 of 60

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

With a budget of no more than $10,000 and preferably more towards half of this what do you think are the best options? From my research a Stax 007 works well with the Woo Audio GES or WES and I guess the 009s with the WES would be some combination but this would exceed or be very close to my limit. 

 

The GES/WES/Liquid Lightning are all inferior to the Gilmore amplifiers, at least according to my ears, so at a minimum, aim for the KGSS/KGSSHV/BHSE with an O2 or 009.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

To make things more complicated should I also consider a high end non electrostatic rig such as a Woo WA5 with some Senn 800s or Audeze or HI6s?


No, with that kind of budget, you don't have to.

 

post #7 of 60
Thread Starter 

Thanks again everyone - very helpful. This is a great forum-  I wish Audiogon was more like this!

 

Some more questions for you experts when you have time:

 

1. A difficult question as I appreciate that it is always hard to quantify but bearing in mind the law of diminishing returns, how much better are the SR009's compared to the SR007s?

 

2. if I am willing to invest in a headphone of the price of an SR009, what other headphones should be considered in this price range? Are Stax planning any new models or to update existign models?

 

3. For those that are long term owners of the SR009s, have these proven to be an "end-game" headphone or do you still consider an upgrade in the future?

 

4. It seems opinion is divided on the Woo Audio Electrostatic amplifiers. Has anyone had the change to do a detailed comparison of the WES, GES and Gilmore BHSE. I understand there is a long lead time on the BHSE. I also understand that the KGSS/KGSSHV are no longer produced commercially.

 

5. Sphinxvc - is your view that even if similar amounts were invested into a non-electrostatic rig, it would still be inferior to well set up electrostatic rig. This suggests there are inherent limitations in all non-electrostatic headphone speaker designs.

 

Thanks again and great to be back with you guys on Headfi!

 

James

post #8 of 60

1) Hard to judge how you interpret diminishing returns - for me, the price vs. sq of the 009 is identical to that of the 007 - the improvement is that great

 

2) There are no other headphones worth considering at this pricepoint (unless you want to risk it all on a pair of R10s, and enjoy their colorations).  Stax JUST came out with the 009s within the year, they certainly have no flagships on the slate for years to come.  They often have updates to their lambda series, but this is irrelevant since 1. they just updated them, and 2. the lambdas do not compete with the omegas

 

3) It is hard again to define end-game, since we all strive for better and better sound.  However there is no other headphone that comes close to the 009, period.  It is end-game for now.  Any change in headphones would be a downgrade until something else is invented. 

 

4) The Woo amplifiers can sound nice, and the GES is an excellent option at its pricepoint!  The WES is not worth anywhere close to their asking price (and I owned serial #1).  Perhaps if you are using Jades, HE90s, or Lamdas, the WES is worth something for coloring the sound, but for the 007 and 009, you really want the purity of a gilmore design. 

 

5) Indeed, it is well known that electrostatic transducers have many benefits over dynamics in terms of sound quality - this was even known when Bell Labs first invented both types of systems back in the early 20th century
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

Thanks again everyone - very helpful. This is a great forum-  I wish Audiogon was more like this!

 

Some more questions for you experts when you have time:

 

1. A difficult question as I appreciate that it is always hard to quantify but bearing in mind the law of diminishing returns, how much better are the SR009's compared to the SR007s?

 

2. if I am willing to invest in a headphone of the price of an SR009, what other headphones should be considered in this price range? Are Stax planning any new models or to update existign models?

 

3. For those that are long term owners of the SR009s, have these proven to be an "end-game" headphone or do you still consider an upgrade in the future?

 

4. It seems opinion is divided on the Woo Audio Electrostatic amplifiers. Has anyone had the change to do a detailed comparison of the WES, GES and Gilmore BHSE. I understand there is a long lead time on the BHSE. I also understand that the KGSS/KGSSHV are no longer produced commercially.

 

5. Sphinxvc - is your view that even if similar amounts were invested into a non-electrostatic rig, it would still be inferior to well set up electrostatic rig. This suggests there are inherent limitations in all non-electrostatic headphone speaker designs.

 

Thanks again and great to be back with you guys on Headfi!

 

James



 

post #9 of 60

James,

 

since you and i have essentially the same 2-channel speakers i know what you have as a reference for presentation. i've heard the WES and Liquid Lightning at RMAF as well as the LC2 and LC3 thru the Liquid fire. i also heard the BHSE at RMAF on the 009's and O2 Mk1's.

 

you will likely find all those headphones to sound veiled to some degree compared to your MM2's except the 009's and to a degree the O2's. i liked the Liquid Lightning at RMAF, but the BHSE was more resolving and more my taste.

 

if you are trying to get the same level of information that you are enjoying from your speakers then the 009's are hard to beat. the amp question is more a matter of taste. your 2-channel amps are a different flavor than mine so the BHSE might not be ideal for you unless you roll the tubes. i've hedged my bet by also ordering the more forgiving Aristaeus for the 009 so i can compare to the BHSE.

 

good luck.

 

Mike

 

 

post #10 of 60
Thread Starter 

Mike,

 

Good to hear from you! I didn't think I would find you on Headfi!

 

I am leaning more and more towards the BHSE.

 

BTW, still awaiting arrival of NVS.

 

Best

 

James

post #11 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

Mike,

 

Good to hear from you! I didn't think I would find you on Headfi!

 

I am leaning more and more towards the BHSE.

 

BTW, still awaiting arrival of NVS.

 

Best

 

James


The BHSE would be my suggestion as well. Get the SR-009. The 007 you want is the MK1, and you'd have to hunt one of those down. I don't know of anyone that ranks the current production (SZ3?) 007 ahead of the MK1. If the wait time for a BHSE is an issue, you can always pick up one of the readily available Stax amps or a GES to power the 009 while you wait, and you'll likely get better results that way than with the more difficult 007.

 

post #12 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

Mike,

 

Good to hear from you! I didn't think I would find you on Headfi!

 

I am leaning more and more towards the BHSE.

 

BTW, still awaiting arrival of NVS.

 

Best

 

James


James,

 

i'm here because i am interested in seeing how close headphones can get to my 2-channel. so far, not that close, but until the BHSE and Aristaeus arrive i' can't draw any conclusions. just another part of the hobby to enjoy.

 

you will love the NVS.

 

btw; this weekend i recieved the new Ortofon Anna cartridge, and wow! here are some first impressions on it;

 

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vaslt&1036349020&openflup&2500&&mark#2500

 

cheers,

 

Mike
 

 

post #13 of 60

Doug pretty much answered all your questions, but here's a few thoughts:

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

1. A difficult question as I appreciate that it is always hard to quantify but bearing in mind the law of diminishing returns, how much better are the SR009's compared to the SR007s?

 

 

Personally, I feel the SR-009s are a slight step above the SR-007s, and distinctly over any other production headphone.  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

2. if I am willing to invest in a headphone of the price of an SR009, what other headphones should be considered in this price range? 

 

Nothing really.  The R10s or Qualias are gambles as investments at this point.  

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

4. It seems opinion is divided on the Woo Audio Electrostatic amplifiers. Has anyone had the change to do a detailed comparison of the WES, GES and Gilmore BHSE. I understand there is a long lead time on the BHSE. I also understand that the KGSS/KGSSHV are no longer produced commercially.


 

The KGSSHV is relatively new, but not yet produced commercially.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicks7 View Post

5. Sphinxvc - is your view that even if similar amounts were invested into a non-electrostatic rig, it would still be inferior to well set up electrostatic rig. This suggests there are inherent limitations in all non-electrostatic headphone speaker designs.


 

Yes.  But of course, if you are first and foremost a lover of tonal weight, and tone viscerality, and are willing to sacrifice absolute resolution (and a few other things exclusive to electrostatics), then you may prefer an Audez'e rig.  

post #14 of 60

I have read that the B.H. with the 009 can have too much high end especially at higher volumes. Doesnt a warmer amp help with this? If this is the case, isnt the WES the best option?

post #15 of 60

I haven't heard the other gear  - well actually I have, but not long enough to be able to really comment on them - but the SR-007 (OII MKI) & BHSE are a winning combo that you can't go wrong with. For me it brings supreme musical satisfaction. smile.gif

 

I found the SR-009 (which I heard last year at RMAF briefly) to be more of a different flavor than an improvement per se from the OII - mostly more treble to me. Aside from the treble aspect it wasn't vastly different from the OII MKI.

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