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SR009 / WES / BHSE / LL hit the mainstream - Page 19

post #271 of 594

It's all too easy in this hobby for signifiers to be perpetuated and emptied of meaning in the process, so I think it's important to always keep in mind why certain pairings are advocated, and that it's ultimately a personal preference thing. Both the BHSE and LL are exceptional amps that do what they do exceptionally, however they both go about doing it in a different way. The BHSE is a powerhouse and has better control over the drivers of what you've got plugged into it, it's the more detailed of the two, but compared to the LL it sounds a bit flat to my ears. The LL on the other hand is less transparent and smears a little bit of detail here and there, but I find it more involving and spatially convincing.

 

The SR-007 is the mousy sibling in Stax's flagship trio, and it needs stimulus to come out of its shell and be the life of the party, so people tend to like it paired with the BHSE. The SR-Omega and SR-009 on the other hand are high strung and need to relax a little for their charms to be appreciated by certain folks, so the LL is their preferred choice.

 

However you may feel differently, and whenever possible it's best for people to listen for themselves while trying to bracket off expectations as much as possible, to listen with a pair of "fresh ears." As Justin said so very astutely earlier on in this thread, people tend to measure their impressions against those that have been established as canonical, either on the authority of certain members or just because they've been repeated so many times as to become written into our symbolic order here on head-fi. To that end, I think it's good for publications to challenge this with fresh sets of impressions that may seem totally alien to us or inverse to our norms, so long as we can keep things in perspective.

post #272 of 594

That's so beautiful, man!  It should be posted on top of the entire board. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

However you may feel differently, and whenever possible it's best for people to listen for themselves while trying to bracket off expectations as much as possible, to listen with a pair of "fresh ears." As Justin said so very astutely earlier on in this thread, people tend to measure their impressions against those that have been established as canonical, either on the authority of certain members or just because they've been repeated so many times as to become written into our symbolic order here on head-fi. To that end, I think it's good for publications to challenge this with fresh sets of impressions that may seem totally alien to us or inverse to our norms, so long as we can keep things in perspective.

post #273 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by statfi View Post

Does anyone have impressions from such tests on whether the LL or the BHSE is better with the 009s?  I guess a comparison that also interests mwilson.

David1961 (a BHSE owner) and I (a LL owner) listened to both about three months ago with a good CD source and David's 009s and my 009s and 007s.

 

We could hear no difference with the 009s via the BHSE or the LL.

 

We did hear the generally accepted difference between the 007s and the 009s (the former darker, maybe less detailed); and David finds it necessary to adjust the volume control when using the 009s with his BHSE (as though what is "right" on some tracks is too loud on other tracks on the same CD; but I don't have this issue as I listen at louder volumes).

 

Differences between the BHSE and the LL, if there are any, pale into insignificance when one factors in more material issues like recording quality and volume level.

 

The reliable identification of any differences would be substantiated, in my view, through a statistically significant outcome from a double blind listening test with multiple subjects and such a test is hardly likely to happen!

 

On other issues (not sound related - build quality, design type) David prefers the BHSE and I prefer the LL - which is luckily what we own.

 

So on sound quality you can, in my view, confidently buy either (recognising there is a material price difference).

post #274 of 594
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

...but compared to the LL [the BHSE] sounds a bit flat to my ears. The LL on the other hand is less transparent and smears a little bit of detail here and there, but I find it more involving and spatially convincing.

 

...To that end, I think it's good for publications to challenge this with fresh sets of impressions that may seem totally alien to us or inverse to our norms, so long as we can keep things in perspective.

 

Never mind the publications challenging with a fresh set of perspectives - we headfiers seem perfectly capable of challenging the established norm entirely by ourselves. So far, we've had just about every variant of what is best with what. And your comment about the spacial differences between the LL and BHSE is the exact opposite of mine. When one observation is the exact opposite of another, what can we possibly conclude from that? It goes beyond personal preferences. But it probably is highly influenced by the particular circumstances (tracks/source/venue/mood/past experience) we heard them in. 

 

Most likely, any of the 4 combinations of BHSE/LL/007/009 are better than many people have ever heard. So whichever combination anyone chooses will probably be just fine.

 

But which particular combination is the absolute best for you simply cannot be guessed from other peoples reviews and observations.Which doesn't help anyone still sitting on the fence.

 

Just imagine if we'd have had some more comments about the WES and A10 thrown into the mix? Then we'd have 4 more combinations that someone, somewhere feels is the best. 

post #275 of 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

Never mind the publications challenging with a fresh set of perspectives - we headfiers seem perfectly capable of challenging the established norm entirely by ourselves. So far, we've had just about every variant of what is best with what.

 

Obviously there are going to be outlying opinions for everything, but in my experience certain trends emerge on head-fi and get perpetuated. For instance "the BHSE is a wire with gain" or "the SR-007 sounds better on the BHSE than the LL" and so on and so forth. I'm not necessarily even denying these two cited examples (I happen to agree with them to an extent), but I bring them up as examples of precedent. You're assuming that most people view all posts here on head-fi as carrying equal weight, but in my experience this isn't so. Not everyone is going to agree with canon, but I don't think opinions are quite the unbound multiplicity you make them out to be. Especially when it comes to new folks who haven't yet heard stuff for themselves. They're going to most likely gravitate toward these canonical ideas. Why? Well, it's a simple fact that some members are more respected and "trusted" as voices for the community than others. The opinions of these members carries more weight than others. Secondly, outlying opinions are going to more likely be glossed over in favor of those that form more of a consensus.

 

That's just how it works. It's something I've seen happen all the time here. It's what leads to misconceptions like "all orthos are hard to drive" and "stats don't do bass well" and the like. When a publication puts out a published review however, it's more likely to garner attention compared to random impressions. Just such a publication is what started this thread, after all. Sometimes change has to come from outside to be most effective, rather than inside the system. Sometimes we have to step outside of the community to see it from a fresh perspective.

 

Really, it's all just part of the culture that develops on head-fi for better or worse. There most certainly is a grab bag of ideas, a diversity at play, but in my experience certain ideas prevail over others and form a certain background that a lot of members choose to adopt. It has its advantages: new members who would otherwise feel lost have a sense of direction. But it is also detrimental when people get locked into these modes of thinking and don't move beyond them.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

Most likely, any of the 4 combinations of BHSE/LL/007/009 are better than many people have ever heard. So whichever combination anyone chooses will probably be just fine.

 

But which particular combination is the absolute best for you simply cannot be guessed from other peoples reviews and observations.Which doesn't help anyone still sitting on the fence.

 

I certainly agree that it's best for people to hear for themselves, which is why I encouraged people to do it while trying to divorce themselves from preconceptions. In my experience certain trends and cliches do emerge here on head-fi even though there are outliers and differing opinions. Sometimes they can be helpful. More often than not however they're detrimental. These preconceptions can sometimes sneak up on a listener, and if he or she is expecting something to sound a certain way, then it could very well influence what is being heard. Or, alternatively, someone could listen to a piece of gear and then in the hazy twilight of recollection "check" their remembrance against the impressions of another head-fier, say one of those veterans or trusted reviewers, and suddenly it all comes back to them in a way that just happens to be similar to what was reported before.

 

Whenever we post something here on head-fi, it carries with it an underlying motivation. We're not just conveying information about a product, but rather how we relate to that information and that product. Some people don't want to take the "risk" of being the odd one out, of going against the norm, and so they temper their impressions and tame them so to speak. They want to save face and belong.

 

Obviously this isn't always the case, but it's a trend I have noticed at times.


Edited by MuppetFace - 10/1/12 at 2:50pm
post #276 of 594

It's just typical and predictable human nature within a group dynamic rolleyes.gif

post #277 of 594
Thread Starter 

MuppetFace, I fully agree with what you say here - I've posted the similar points before (in a less eloquent way).

 

My point was that, in this particular thread, both mainstream reviewers and headfiers do seem to have bucked the trend and spoken their true thoughts on the topic. Which has contributed to the wide range of observations. 

post #278 of 594

OK, I finally did it. Courtesy of a fellow head-fi'er and Alex Cavalli, I finally had the opportunity to audition the BHSE and the LL at the same time, using a SR-009, all in the known environment of my home. What follows are some highly subjective and lacking any measurement data impressions.

 

Bias alert: none that I'm aware of. I paid for round-trip shipping on both the BHSE/009 and the LL; I don't own any of these fine devices at the moment, nor do I have plans to enter long positions on either anytime soon. I've owned the LL and 009 before, and am hence arguably more familiar with this combo's sound signature, but I wasn't rooting for either. In other words - I have no vested interest to see one outperform the other.

 

The setup was identical, Apple lossless files -> Resolution Audio Cantata Music Center DAC -> balanced Q Audio interconnects -> amplifier -> SR-009. Music choices ranged from jazz to classical to rock to electronica, and I used the same material to which I usually listen when evaluating new equipment.

 

Look and feel - in my opinion, the BHSE wins hands-down. While I appreciate the LL's minimalistic design, the BHSE is in a different league. From a practical standpoint, the LL was the winner - all-in-one unit, smaller, easier to place and blend in. In my particular setup, I could simply not accommodate a BHSE given its two-unit design, though the LL was somewhat of a challenge as well in my three-post rack, and I ended up placing it on the top shelf while I owned it. The BHSE runs hot, the LL cooler, though I wouldn't place anything on top of it. The BHSE has a very nice glow in the dark, the LL has a cold blue pair of LEDs. To each his or her own, but I prefer warmth over koolness

 

Based on my listening, the BHSE is a bit more resolving than the LL. However, resolution isn't everything. In another hobby of mine, photography, there's a similar pitfall when comparing lenses, always at the ready, to distract obsessive photographers from the greater picture, and it's called "pixel peeping". Said trait will concern a user so much with the sharpness at pixel level, thinking that it's an end-all to what constitutes ultimate image quality, that he or she will stop seeing the forest for the trees; there's so much more to the overall photo than the pixel sharpness that it's not even funny. There is saturation, micro-contrast, pop, fringe and color aberration control that ultimately all go towards giving a photo a life-like dynamic. Much in this sense, the BHSE outresolves the LL to a degree... does this mean it's more enjoyable in giving life to the recording? Not in the least. Wire with gain is an oft-repeated and in my opinion vastly overrated characteristic of an amplifier. An amp is but one component tasked with bringing the recording to life; the whole chain needs to be synergistic enough that the output has that lively sparkle, that captivating edge making the listener want to get lost in the music. Make no mistake, the LL is one very revealing and detailed amp; it's just not to the degree that it will flaunt such; it's the refined and understated elegance that gives its details a confidence rooted in a very dynamic presentation. To put this another way - the LL presents details in a way that they're there should you choose to register them; the BHSE gives them to you should you like it or not - and this aspect I found to be distracting.

 

Ultimately, they're both excellent amps, and once again I'm glad I had the opportunity to listen to them side-by-side. As far as I'm concerned, the LL/009 is simply unmatched by the BHSE/009, and neither can rise to the level of a good speaker system (though in fairness such a setup will cost a WHOLE lot more than a BHSE/LL/009 system).



Edit: fixed a spelling error.
Edited by mwilson - 10/8/12 at 8:36pm
post #279 of 594

Thanks for the impressions, mwilson. That Cantata Music Center looks awesome!

post #280 of 594

To mwilson  : Many thanks for your gracious contribution .

post #281 of 594

Can't remember if I knew you had a Cantana or not, but either way I'm jealous. Every time I see one I want it. Gorgeous piece of kit,

 

That's the conclusion I've made and the point I make to a specific friend of mine that calls me an idiot for not just investing 10k in speakers. I just tell him that 10k wouldn't get me anywhere near where this headphone rig gets me. It's also how I justified it to myself.

 

Glad to hear the way it turned out. Still need to hear a BHSE for myself. Oh, and it seriously runs hotter than the LL? Jeez. The LL cooks.

beerchug.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mwilson View Post

 

Ultimately, they're both excellent amps, and once again I'm glad I had the opportunity to listen to them side-by-side. As far as I'm concerned, the LL/009 is simply unmatched by the BHSE/009, and neither can raise to the level of a good speaker system (though in fairness such a setup will cost a WHOLE lot more than a BHSE/LL/009 system).

post #282 of 594

i'll have to check the temperature again sometime, but in a ~75 degree (F) room, the heatsinks reach temperatures of low to mid 40's (C).  that's really not much at all.  Internally, the hottest component, a MOSFET on a PCB heatsink, reaches mid-50's (C).

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post #283 of 594

I might have to measure the actual LL case temp sometime. It gets up there (understandably).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin w. View Post

i'll have to check the temperature again sometime, but in a ~75 degree (F) room, the heatsinks reach temperatures of low to mid 40's (C).  that's really not much at all.  Internally, the hottest component, a MOSFET on a PCB heatsink, reaches mid-50's (C).

post #284 of 594
Mwilson, many thanks indeed. So, there's not a single music style in your collection where you preferred the "hold no barrel" resolution of the BHSE?

Additionnally, it seems the conclusion for you is to get neither amp. You mention this is because of speakers but could there be some other reason such as fear of getting frustrated with the LL apparent lack of resolution over the long run (I am projecting my own audiophile nervosia here though)?

Your analogy with photography was interesting but I have a concern. Indeed, there is so much more to overall picture sharpness than lens performance (and I agree lenses pretty much don't matter at this time). Yet, I personnally hate pics that lack sharpness unless this is intentional (for instance I like to take pics of my young babies with some overexposure / softer focus to give it some smoothness and angel like qualities, they're monsters in reality wink.gif kidding).

Along the same lines, I appreciate the 009 over the omega 2 for this extra resolution (out of stax amp) and know I would grow frustrated if I feel the LL is acting as a bottleneck. On the other hand, I am very much of a system synergy believer like you and it is why my current rig is what it is. I so much want to pull the trigger on the BHSE but am concerned it is just going to spoil the experience with the 009 after I read something like your review (it's one of those products where I probably will never have the opportunity to test it in my system like you did).

Last, a question, where does your source fall along the scale of resolution vs musicality? Not saying you can't get both with a great source but unfortunately extreme detail retrieval / sharp transient source often seems to come at the price of making some recordings less listenable. For instance, I personnaly haven't found a resampling (software or hardware based) player that I like, it somehow always sounds hard and I prefer playing material at native rate. Another thing is the bass / authority / foundation of the source as not all sources are created equal in that regard. In other words, I wonder what the cantata aims to get right and how much that influenced your impressions of the gear downstream?
post #285 of 594

For me mwilsons impressions typify the problems inherent with the 009, with the BHSE highlighting and LL masking. Short answer 007 Mk1. tongue.gif

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