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SR009 / WES / BHSE / LL hit the mainstream - Page 16

post #226 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

We had an impromptu BHSE/007/LL/009 mini shootout at yesterday's 2012 UK meet, which was the first time I'd seen or heard the latter 2 components:

 

... In short, the LL was brought over and we swapped between the LL and BHSE, using the 007 and Holly Cole on the Audio Note as the common factors.

 

... The BHSE was clearly better  with this combination. It was particularly good at pinpointing each component of the "headstage" such that Holly and the surrounding instruments each stood out in a lifelike, lively, yet un-fatiguing manner. In comparison, the LL presented the same "picture" in a more smeared manner, where the images blurred into each other, in a flatter, smoother, and ultimately more boring way. All other sound considerations (e.g. which had deeper bass) seemed irrelevant  in this particular situation.

 

... I'm very wary of A/B comparisons. Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees. I think this particular situation was so clear cut because the BHSE combo captured a reasonable flavour of what I can recreate at home in the dark: having Holly actually standing next to me singing into my ear. And when that happens, any lesser representation is simply not good enough!

 

... Then we tried the 009 with the LL. This was a much better match than had been the case with the 007. However,  that image smearing was  still present, albeit much less obviously. This produced a good sound. However, putting the 009 to the BHSE was better still. 

 

... My take: The BHSE + 007 pin points each component in a remarkable headstage. The 009 then gives each pin point extra texture, timbre (and probably a few more descriptions beginning with "t"). Very impressive, although I was hoping for a bigger soundstage from the 009, based on other reports.

 

Conclusions

 

  • Look, this was just a meet impression. YMMV
  • I think TMWNN could well be ordering the BHSE soon
  • I'm completely happy with my BHSE+007. One day, I may audition the 009 more thoroughly, but I'm in no hurry
  • The LL+007 is not a good combination, but LL+009 is just fine
  • The LL costs less than the BHSE and is less fuss . It looks smarter in real life than in the pictures and it seems very well built. And the value of having a good local dealer should not be underestimated. So it's got a lot going for it, but it just lost out in this particular comparison    

 

PS, both units had been switched on for 5+ hours by this point

 

 

Dave ("David1961") and I were both at the event. In fact Dave took his BHSE and his 009s driven by an iPod.

 

Back home we had, about two months ago, listened to my LL and Dave's BHSE with my 007s and 009s and Dave's 009s.

 

We posted the results, which were effectively that we could hear no differences between the amplifiers but that the 009s were "brighter" with perhaps more detail and the 007s were "darker" with perhaps less detail. There was a preference for the 009s. We got nowhere close to some of the conclusions voiced by The Attorney.

 

We thought there might have been one specific amplifier difference but we chose not to say anything about that.

 

Furthermore, one amplifier was connected balanced and one unbalanced; and one went through a mains conditioner and the other did not. We did not reveal which was which - nor will we - and we have decided not to run further tests because we think it is futile.

 

More recently we just listened to the BHSE at Dave's house with the 009s and 007s. Whether, through the passage of time, there were material objective differences in the amplifier is impossible to say: the BHSE might be better "run in"; it had been on for longer; and we biassed the tubes from their original (unbalanced) settings.

 

Although the 007 and 009 differences were still there, we did not conclude that there was a clear preference for the 009s. I probably prefer the 009s but could easily live with either. Dave, who listens at a lower volume, prefers the 009s on some recordings and the 007s on others - and finds he has to adjust volume more frequently on the 009s than the 007s otherwise the "brightness" is irritating.

 

But all this headphone amplifier stuff needs context. For what it's worth, my indicative conclusion, in the context of loudspeaker and headphone listening, is that the influencing factors, on a scale of 0 to 10, which determine listener enjoyment, are:

 

Personal mood: 10

Recording: 10

Room and comfort: 8 (loudspeakers) 6 (headphones)

Type of loudspeakers or headphones (generally): 6

Differences in electrostatic loudspeakers/headphones: 3

Digital players including MP3/CD/HiRes: 5

Good digital players excluding MP3: 2

Amplifiers: 1 - 2

Equipment looks and construction: 0 - 4 or more (depending on user)

 

So whilst the BHSE and the LL are valid competitors, I couldn't get too excited on sound quality grounds over having one or the other. Dave's preference is that he likes the looks and build quality and the ability to swap valves of the BHSE. My preference is that I like the looks and build quality and non-valve "non-swapping" basis of the LL.

 

Someone should organise a double blind test for the LL and the BHSE for those who really believe there is a "clear difference".

post #227 of 594

Level headedness on the internet. Get out.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IanG View Post

 

But all this headphone amplifier stuff needs context. For what it's worth, my indicative conclusion, in the context of loudspeaker and headphone listening, is that the influencing factors, on a scale of 0 to 10, which determine listener enjoyment, are:

 

Personal mood: 10

Recording: 10

Room and comfort: 8 (loudspeakers) 6 (headphones)

Type of loudspeakers or headphones (generally): 6

Differences in electrostatic loudspeakers/headphones: 3

Digital players including MP3/CD/HiRes: 5

Good digital players excluding MP3: 2

Amplifiers: 1 - 2

Equipment looks and construction: 0 - 4 or more (depending on user)

 

So whilst the BHSE and the LL are valid competitors, I couldn't get too excited on sound quality grounds over having one or the other. Dave's preference is that he likes the looks and build quality and the ability to swap valves of the BHSE. My preference is that I like the looks and build quality and non-valve "non-swapping" basis of the LL.

 

Someone should organise a double blind test for the LL and the BHSE for those who really believe there is a "clear difference".

post #228 of 594
Thread Starter 

Hi IanG,

 

I don't know if you've read this thread from the beginning, but it is a good example of how dramatically opposed different people's views can be on exactly the same product. If you surf the forums for long enough, you'll eventually come across every possible variant of opinion. There is just so much bias, prejudice, false expectation, hidden agendas, inexperience, strange preferences, etc, etc, that it's a wonder that anything can be considered real.

 

Yet we all still want to hear other's reviews and impressions and try to find our way through this jungle as best we can - usually by trying to build a consensus and by getting to know other like-minded, experienced  members and giving extra weight to their opinions. 

 

So it's no surprise to me that you and Dave didn't notice much difference between the BHSE and LL on one occasion, or that you're very happy with the LL+007 combination, or that Dave didn't notice a difference with his K01 filter option whilst another K01 owner said it made a significant difference. I've been there many times.

 

I read your and Dave's impressions before the UK Meet and I wasn't expecting to myself hear much difference between the two. TBH, I wasn't really expecting anything at all. And I've already said that I don't rate A/B comparisons as being a reliable method of choosing anything. And on another occasion I may not have heard much difference, or may have chosen the other way.

 

But at the UK meet, in the particular circumstance I've already described, the differences were so obvious that there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind.  Those differences may have been objectively very small, and may not have meant much to someone else  with different sound preferences. But I'm convinced they were real and so am very pleased with my BHSE. I'm not saying that the LL+007 can't give lots of pleasure to anyone else, but I am saying that, if your priority is to have an accurate, lively, lifelike, 3D sound stage, than I think you can do better (like getting the 009 for the LL). If you're not so bothered about the soundstage, but do want a very smooth sound, then the LL+007 will be just fine.

 

I'm less certain about the 007 v 009 situation on the BHSE. The 009 certainly sounded like it was worth further investigation, but the BHSE+007 already sounds so good that I'm in no rush to make any more changes for the moment. Time to just enjoy some music.     

post #229 of 594

Hi Richard

The first time I heard Ian's 007 and my 009 with my BHSE, we both thought the 009 sounded a lot better than the 007, but the second time [ two months later ] the 007 sounded a completely different headphone and we thought it sounded better with some songs and the 009 better with others. The last person to use my BHSE + 009 at that meeting  also brought his own 007 and when hearing them both he preferred his 007, then after about 5 minutes he changed his mind and liked the 009 better. The headphone world is a funny place, but one I enjoy being in.

post #230 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

Level headedness on the internet. Get out.

 

 

Thank you!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

Hi IanG,

 

I don't know if you've read this thread from the beginning, but it is a good example of how dramatically opposed different people's views can be on exactly the same product. If you surf the forums for long enough, you'll eventually come across every possible variant of opinion. There is just so much bias, prejudice, false expectation, hidden agendas, inexperience, strange preferences, etc, etc, that it's a wonder that anything can be considered real.

 

 

 

I agree!

 

To me, internet discussion threads are a bit like reading a mix of broadsheet and tabloid UK newspapers. They inform, or they irritate, or they irritate intensely - and you can do nothing about most of the issues. So whilst I do dip into HeadFi and HiFi Wigwam occasionally it is better to stay away for long periods (one of which is about to start!) and just enjoy your music.

post #231 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by IanG View Post

I agree!

 

To me, internet discussion threads are a bit like reading a mix of broadsheet and tabloid UK newspapers. They inform, or they irritate, or they irritate intensely - and you can do nothing about most of the issues. So whilst I do dip into HeadFi and HiFi Wigwam occasionally it is better to stay away for long periods (one of which is about to start!) and just enjoy your music.

 

In an a ideal world Ian, someones views would be accepted by all, unless they were outrageously extreme. Unfortunately it's not an ideal world, well in the UK it isn't.

post #232 of 594
Iang, we are missing high end stat amp impressions already and unbiased / alternative point of views like yours even more so I do hope you stick around...
post #233 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by IanG View Post

Thank you!


I agree!

To me, internet discussion threads are a bit like reading a mix of broadsheet and tabloid UK newspapers. They inform, or they irritate, or they irritate intensely - and you can do nothing about most of the issues. So whilst I do dip into HeadFi and HiFi Wigwam occasionally it is better to stay away for long periods (one of which is about to start!) and just enjoy your music.
Excellent post Ian. I completely agree with you about forums. I do enjoy reading them but they usually end to be a distraction from the music.
post #234 of 594

Yes, there's common sense creeping into this thread, and it should be suppressed at all costs! tongue.gif

 

In my opinion the main reason for the variance of opinion is that people judge headphones by other headphones instead of live sound. So if you get a preponderance of bright headphones, and in my experience most phones are brighter than live music, some to an absurd degree, a more realistically balanced phone will be heard as muted or dark when in fact it's no such thing. And then this folklore gets repeated ad infinitum by people who've never heard the phones in question and newbies write stuff like "I've had an HD650 recommended to me but I've read that it's got a dark signature and isn't right for my music", or "I'd like to get the LCD-2 but people say it's got a poor soundstage and isn't suitable for classical"--and headphones that might have been entirely suitable for those enquirers get tossed aside in favour of less suitable and usually less accurate fare. Yes, I admit I get frustrated--you can probably tell. My typing fingers twitch every time I read something like, "Headphone X is fantastic, it's just got so much detail, heaps more than headphone Y. It leaves Y in the dust." Anyone with any real experience of audio knows that "detail" (or "great soundstage" for that matter) usually means exaggerated treble, but thus are headphones judged on public forums, and will continue to be judged, until someone realizes what "hi-fi" actually means. 

 

Hmm, I'm ranting again. No matter. rolleyes.gif

post #235 of 594
pp312,

So the conclusion if I read you well: lcd2 and hd650 cans that are considered on the warmer side of neutral or even dark by many are actually most honest to the source, most other cans are artificially bright and the vast majority of people are tin earred treble heads.

Well, I would like to know which live events you go to in order to be so ascertive. Let's take classical concerts for example. Dependent on the hall and especially seating, one gets a totally different tonality from brilliant to muffled dark. Assuming you were in the theatre on same day as the recording, it is the result of scattered mics nearby the instruments, above the pit and maybe a little further away. The mix is totally up to the judgmend of the audio engineer and maybe few others. How can you possibly judge a headphone's neutrality with such potential mismatch?

In my personal case, pretty much the only way to be subjectively assessing a headphone tonal balance is either comparatively to other headphones or listening to human voice (although it also has its pitfalls because of all the recording chain), and maybe piano to a lesser extent (this is also pretty much bogus because it depends also on the recording engineers choice of mic placement).

Objectively on the other hand, no matter which reference you look into, the shelved treble from something like the lcd2 is visible. Doesn't matter the reference equalization that was used, it is so pronounced that it can't be blamed on the measurement system. I can certainly understand you might have a preference for this but I find it a bit presemptuous to then ascert everything else must be wrong.
post #236 of 594

Arnaud,

 

I'm gratified that you read my whole post but perhaps you read too much into it. I used the examples I did because they're typical, and I'm suggesting that perhaps the stereotypical idea of them is not necessarily accurate. As to your argument about different positions in the concert hall, it's all been put forward before, but if we took the example of listening from just one position and could somehow cut off the live sound and immediately put on different headphones for comparison to that live sound, I believe we would find that phones like all the Grados, pretty much all the ATs, the AKGs and Beyers would be found to be inordinately bright by comparison (none of those I've tried, and that's a good few in the mid-price range, has ever reminded me even vaguely of the balance I hear in the concert hall in any position), whereas those phones currently considered "dark" would be found to actually have a more realistic balance---judged from that one position. I hope that's not too fanciful an argument.

 

I say again, you cannot judge any headphone by other headphones, at least not in terms of true fidelity. There's no constant yardstick that way--you'll just go off the track into a ditch.

 

Re the shelved treble of the LCD-2, it's designed that way to counter the artificial brightness of having a driver right by your ear. It's in the literature.  

 

As for my being assertive and presumptuous, you're quite correct. They're two of my better points.  tongue_smile.gif

post #237 of 594

They're still shelved AFTER compensation though.  You're trying to compare raw response to compensated response.  The compensation functions take care of that issue (among others).  

post #238 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

I say again, you cannot judge any headphone by other headphones, at least not in terms of true fidelity. There's no constant yardstick that way--you'll just go off the track into a ditch.

Pp312, I appreciate the point you make about relying exclusively on subjective comparisons between headphones that could lead to troubles. For instance, short A/B sessions can often trick someone to pick the brighter headphone, even an experienced person can fall for this. But seriously, I wouldn't presume this is the sole or even main reason for the recent trends toward brighter cans.

The exact same arguments occur in the case of speakers (speaker trade shows being one of the only ways to compare multiple systems over short term period). And, somehow, the more matured speaker market hasn't all evolved into cerwin vega house sound. No offense to potential owners on this board, I just recall such dreadful tradeshows demos from my speaker audio days wink.gif

You can't deny that headphones opinions that are formed by hundreds different people with varying taste, over extensive listening sessions, are a pretty solid basis when converging toward a same general assesment of a headphone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

Re the shelved treble of the LCD-2, it's designed that way to counter the artificial brightness of having a driver right by your ear. It's in the literature.  

This is a fallacy and I would be interested in reading the references. For instance, as mentioned by nerdling above, you can measure a headphone response with any dummy head, correct the response using said dummy head HRTF (let's assume free field at +/-30 degrees). I can assure you that, if the compensated headphone response measures flat, said dummy head will not perceive the headphones as bright when compared to neutral speaker in same position under anechoic conditions.

You can get into the argument of the appropriate equalization curve (diffuse or free field) and dummy head shape (which is most appropriate for the typical user base), but overall, there have been targets and measuring gear for several decades and people have been using them for that long (such as stax). Suffice to say, this argument about need for additional treble shelving holds no water to me. The only reading I remember about is from Tyll and I am not even sure he would say the same thing today.

Actually, what we are currently discussing with Tyll may scare you a little as he is thinking of using using the inverse of an average of reference cans measured in his system in order to set a neutral target for his measuring gear (instead of using a particular DF or FF or ID compensation curve). If we go by your argument that most headphone are too bright (because the lcd 2 is neutral), then Tyll is gearing up for a treble head compensation target lol wink.gif.

On the physics side of things, we treat objects as close or distant relative to their acoustic wavelength. In that sense, headphone listening is extremely nearfield at low frequency and pretty much nearfield up to the upper midrange lower treble. So, if we go by this fallacy that nearfield listening has to be compensated due to driver proximity, we should get started with the lows not the mids or highs!

In my experience, the only thing I have noticed is some headphones feel like the drivers blast close to my ears, e.g I can localize the source rather than the rendering of the recording. What I have found is that this is the result of headphone that suck rather than being simply bright. The SR009 is considered as bright by some (possibly many) but nobody has ever complained that it feels like the driver blasts right next to your ear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

As for my being assertive and presumptuous, you're quite correct. They're two of my better points.  

Hehe, I like that spirit. It certainly is nice to have this conversation with you, however presumptuous you are wink.gif. Hell, I come across as an obnoxious frenchie by many I am sure wink.gif.
Edited by arnaud - 9/21/12 at 3:14pm
post #239 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

 

I say again, you cannot judge any headphone by other headphones, at least not in terms of true fidelity. There's no constant yardstick that way--you'll just go off the track into a ditch.

 

The constant yardstick is the source recording, and how it compares via different headphones and components up the chain. Pretty simple stuff really. Comparing the source recording to reality doesn't mean anything because microphones are as variable as headphones. As has already been said mic placement (as well as the mix/mastering) also really matters, and is quite inconsistent.


Edited by grokit - 9/21/12 at 7:54pm
post #240 of 594

One additional thing I recall from Tyll I believe is that there is natural attenuation due to sound propagation in the air. Since you don't get this distance in headphones, you should compensate. Well, the thing is this propagation "damping" (not to confused with general attenuation with distance due to spherical wave spreading) really only starts to be visible in 20-30 meters ranges and even then only at the upper limit of the audio range. Suffice to say, it bears no meaning in the context of speaker or headphone sound reproduction. Having recording mics near the instruments or above the orchestra pit is another story and hopefully the audio engineer / mixer have taste...

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