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Which electrostatic headphones are best for rock?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I already own a set of orthodynamics (modded T50RPs) and love the smoothness of them, as well as a set of dynamic headphones (woodied magnum v3), and love the punch and attack of them, so I am looking into the third technology, the electrostatics.

 

I listen mostly to rock (grunge, classic, garage, rap metal), post rock, a little bit of Jazz, 90's britpop, and is starting to learn Reggae.

 

Some one recommended the Stax 2020 system, and I have been looking into to SR5R (not sure which amp/adaptor) and the Koss ESP-950.  Could you guys recommend a system for me?  My budget is around $500, and I do not mind having second hand stuff at all, as long as they are of good condition (no cracks, functions perfect, etc ...)

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambchang View Post

I already own a set of orthodynamics (modded T50RPs) and love the smoothness of them, as well as a set of dynamic headphones (woodied magnum v3), and love the punch and attack of them, so I am looking into the third technology, the electrostatics.

 

I listen mostly to rock (grunge, classic, garage, rap metal), post rock, a little bit of Jazz, 90's britpop, and is starting to learn Reggae.

 

Some one recommended the Stax 2020 system, and I have been looking into to SR5R (not sure which amp/adaptor) and the Koss ESP-950.  Could you guys recommend a system for me?  My budget is around $500, and I do not mind having second hand stuff at all, as long as they are of good condition (no cracks, functions perfect, etc ...)

 

Thanks.

 

With a budget of $500 you'll be looking at used lambda's + transformer/amp. The Stax 2020 was my first taste of electrostats and it's a nice balanced system. If you can find one for $350 or so it's not at all a bad buy. Since you're listening to mostly rock I'd say the best candidate would be the original normal bias lambda which sounds bomb despite being the original.  ESP 950 would be a great all in one system though if it stays at $999 new on amazon used units might even exceed your budget.  The SR5 isn't a bad headphone, but they've been going for a lot more than they are worth recently, and for a bit more lambda's are a lot better overall.

post #3 of 6

If you're willing to stretch your budget for the ESP950, it's (in my opinion) the best rock 'stat system under $1000. Even compared to other electrostats, they manage to be perfectly warm and yet detailed at the same time. Coming from an ortho, I think you'd like them.

post #4 of 6

The SR-202 seemed recessed in the midrange to me when coming from the SR-Lambda. That means recessed vocals in most rock music, which I don't like.

 

You can afford the Normal bias SR-Lambda with an SRD-7/SB pretty easily with a $500 budget, but you'll need a speaker amp to power it. Integrated receivers work pretty well for that.

 

From what I've heard about the Koss ESP/950, with comments like "SR-Lambda on steroids", it's also a promising model...but the days of used sets selling for $350-500 are probably over now that they're getting Head-Fi recognition. I wish I could say I've auditioned one, but I haven't.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, I had a chance to get the ESP950 for $500 recently, but hesitated, and it was instantly snapped up by someone else.


I will keep my eyes out for one for a good price.

 

Lambda's have always been on my list, but I am not sure of the price, for some reason, I thought it would always be closer to $1K.


Getting a receiver isn't a big deal, I can probably get a used one for $150 or so, I think.

post #6 of 6
Between the Lambda and the ESP950, I much prefer the ESP950 as an all-around performer for rock music.

The Lambdas really play up that effortless speed and detail that stats excel at. They're really airy and almost whisper in your ear. If you listened to lots of acoustic or folk rock, then I'd say go for that.

But while the ESP950 feels a half step slower and less detailed than the Lambda because it doesn't have quite the air and treble focus -- they have the BALLS that you really need for lots of rock music (IMO). The bass is a lot punchier, there's better PRaT, and they feel more balanced overall. And they still maintain that smooth, unfatiguing sound that's typical of stats.

If you're going to be throwing your whole collection at these headphones, I'd bet the ESP950 will be preferred for more of your music.
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