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SR009 / WES / BHSE / LL hit the mainstream

post #1 of 594
Thread Starter 

High End headphone systems seem to becoming more accepted in the mainstream hifi press at an accelerated rate. Here's a link to AVGUIDE's review of the WES: Woo Audio WES Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier (Playback 54).

 

There's a review of the SR009 in the same edition. The most interesting thing about this is that they are using the SR009 as the start of a 3-way comparison of the WES against BHSE and Liquid Lightning. I usually take magazine reviews with a pinch of salt, but having a comparison review has got my attention - so much more useful than the usual gushing rave review with insufficient reference points.

 

So far, only the WES is covered in detail, but this snippet below almost made me fall out of my chair:

 

"Given that the WES is quite good but not perfect, you will want to consider how the WES compares to other electrostatic headphone amps. While we haven’t completed our work on this, we would say that the Woo majors in clarity and dynamics, the Head Amp Blue Hawaii SE majors in harmonic richness and warmth, and the Cavalli Liquid Lightning falls somewhere in the middle."

 

The above sound signatures of the WES v BHSE is the exact opposite of what I've read so far on head-fi. I'm intrigued to see how the next installment goes. 


Edited by TheAttorney - 3/10/12 at 11:37pm
post #2 of 594

Thanks for the heads up. This looks to be one promising review / show down indeed.

post #3 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

"Given that the WES is quite good but not perfect, you will want to consider how the WES compares to other electrostatic headphone amps. While we haven’t completed our work on this, we would say that the Woo majors in clarity and dynamics, the Head Amp Blue Hawaii SE majors in harmonic richness and warmth, and the Cavalli Liquid Lightning falls somewhere in the middle."

 

The above sound signatures of the WES v BHSE is the exact opposite of what I've read so far on head-fi. I'm intrigued to see how the next installment goes. 


This shouldn't be surprising.  Remember that even though we are on the openness of the internet, Head-Fi is often a bubble.  The sound signature of an amplifier can be established not by the amp itself but by the comments of one person who set the tone and then it is repeated from there -- within the bubble.  I have noticed many manufacturers try to control this by posting ad copy or by hand selecting a reviewer to post those first impressions.  If you don't do this, then who knows what it will be -- warm, bright, purple, yellow.  There are lots of other headphone forums in the world, and it's always interesting to see how an amp that is warm in Singapore is bright in the USA and neutral in Japan.  My guess is that the reviewer in the above article started from a clean slate and did not seek to make sure his impressions were "correct" based on another persons internet comments.

HeadAmp Audio Electronics - home of the Pico and Gilmore amps.  Now with Audeze, Fostex, HiFiMAN, Sennheiser, and STAX.
Find us at www.HeadAmp.com

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post #4 of 594

As he should have - and I applaud the reviewer for not falling back on others!  Still, his comments are rather unexpected and (imo) weird
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin w. View Post

My guess is that the reviewer in the above article started from a clean slate and did not seek to make sure his impressions were "correct" based on another persons internet comments.



 

post #5 of 594

Thanks for posting this, TheAttorney! (Although aren't we called "solicitors" over in the UK?)

 

I think it's always great to see more mainstream reviews on our little niche of the headphone world. Good, well written reviews like the ones you posted will hopefully encourage people to try out electrostatic who might not have otherwise given it a second look.

 

Thanks to Justin (headamp) Woo, and Cavalli for sending in their amps in to these guys for review. I've owned the SR-009 since August and I've also heard the three amps. While I don't necessarily agree 100% with the conclusions they reached in the little summary capsule review TheAttorney quoted above, I can understand where they are coming from. 

 

Also, man do they loves them some SR-009s. I feel the same way about them.

 

"Let me come right out and say it: the Stax SR-009 is the most accurate, neutrally balanced, responsive, nuanced, and detailed audio transducer I’ve heard. It is also—unlike some electrostatic headphones I’ve tried—capable of very robust dynamics and powerful (though ultra-clean) low bass (areas where some electrostats seem to run out of steam earlier than would be desirable). In short, the SR-009 is the best headphone I’ve yet heard."

 

Thanks again for posting. Both articles were fun reads.


Edited by TMoney - 3/11/12 at 6:34am
post #6 of 594
Thread Starter 

One of the reviewers did mention one, very slight, negative characteristic of the SR009: That it had a slight upper mid emphasis, which sometimes gave female vocals a "shouty" quality.

I wonder if that coincides with the brightness that half of head-fiers attribute to this headphone? The other half saying that there is no problem at all in this area.

 

Again, it was interesting that it was the WES that most showed up this characteristic.

 

BTW, my nick name has nothing to do with the law, or at least not the law as understood by normal folk. The clue is in the avatar.

 

post #7 of 594

Heavily anticipating the conclusion of this review.

We only have one real review of the Liquid Lightning out there. I would love to see more breakdowns from more sources before deciding. 

post #8 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

One of the reviewers did mention one, very slight, negative characteristic of the SR009: That it had a slight upper mid emphasis, which sometimes gave female vocals a "shouty" quality.

I wonder if that coincides with the brightness that half of head-fiers attribute to this headphone? The other half saying that there is no problem at all in this area.

 

Again, it was interesting that it was the WES that most showed up this characteristic.

 

BTW, my nick name has nothing to do with the law, or at least not the law as understood by normal folk. The clue is in the avatar.

 

 

Oscar Zeta Acosta.

post #9 of 594

we have a TON of reviews of the LL - you just have to search for "srm-323" ;) 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obzilla View Post

Heavily anticipating the conclusion of this review.

We only have one real review of the Liquid Lightning out there. I would love to see more breakdowns from more sources before deciding. 



 

post #10 of 594

Ouch, so the circuit has been revealed and that's what's underneath the hood? And what about the Liquid Fire -- what does that schematic look like?

post #11 of 594


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post

Ouch, so the circuit has been revealed and that's what's underneath the hood? And what about the Liquid Fire -- what does that schematic look like?



Yes, I'm curious if this is substantiated or speculation/conjecture.

post #12 of 594

Shouldn't you be enjoying your new GES instead of ogling the LL?  tongue.gif

 

El Doug is a pretty reliable source, and I don't think he'd make that claim without some foundation.

post #13 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post

Shouldn't you be enjoying your new GES instead of ogling the LL?  tongue.gif

 

El Doug is a pretty reliable source, and I don't think he'd make that claim without some foundation.

 

Shouldn't you be out spending some money?

 

It's a valid question. And I am enjoying it as we speak going back and forth between it and my new Liquid Fire, as well as ogling lots of stuff online, it's what I do on weekends.

I'm not challenging anyone's validity, just asking what the deal is.

I'm not really "part of the in crowd" so I don't want to assume something is true if it's just a tongue in cheek joke that I don't understand.
 

 

post #14 of 594

It definitely is -- I'm looking forward to seeing the evidence as well. I was just trying to make an inside joke; not sure if it came across clearly in the post.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obzilla View Post

 

It's a valid question.
 

 



 

post #15 of 594

the LL has been reverse-engineered, and to be fair seems to be different enough from the 323 (though with the same underlying design) - it seems to have different current sources, and uses mosfets in the intermediate stages.  Not a bad amp at all!  $4k seems a bit steep, but then you have people who say the A10 is worth all $6500...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post

Ouch, so the circuit has been revealed and that's what's underneath the hood? And what about the Liquid Fire -- what does that schematic look like?



 

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