I also auditioned the LCD2, HE500 and HE400 at a local meet and felt like there were no limitations driving any of these headphones. I plan to add the C4S boards soon which should lower the noise floor and improve bass further. The last addition will be a 4pin balanced socket to allow for easy connection to balanced headphones.
Anyone using a Bottlehead S.E.X. 2.1? - Page 2
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The way I have the sound connected to the computer is... X-Fi > Stello DA-100 DAC > Bottlehead Extended Foreplay III preamp > Beta 22, Bijou, SEX 2.1.
The Hd-800's are usually connected to the Bijou most of the time (which is the amp I use most for music). They sound very good with tubes and in my setup you can't get any more "tubieness" than this. The 800's also sound fine with the Sex but the 2 watts of power are just made for Stax with transformer box. I once had the Stax hooked up to the Bottlehead Paramounts and that sound had no equal but they were built for the stereo speakers so the Sex will have to do for the Stax headphones. The gain on the Beta 22 is to low for the Stax by itself... needs the Foreplay III.
I use the Beta 22 with the closed Denon D-7000's which I built with low gain (2X) just for them. Unnecessary because they are easy to drive but I like to build amps and the Beta 22 was a nice project. This is also the amp I use with the LCD-2r2. I don't use these headphones much not because of the sound but because the are uncomfortable. The Beta amp is the amp I use when gaming and I switch to either the HD-800's or Denons depending on the weather-like moods of the house dragon (wife).
The Stello DAC is the only DAC I own besides the X-Fi and it blows the sound card away.
To put this all in a "nutshell"... all the amps sound good to my non golden ears of 61 years with the headphones I have. But I really do think the whole amp thing is overblown as long as they are of a high quality and proper impedance for the headphones you chose. It's very easy to be "Head Fi'ed" . If I'd have to have only one amp it wouldn't make no difference which amp it would be for they all sound fine coming after the Stello > Foreplay III (adjusts the input voltage for the 3 amps). I guess I would chose the Sex over the others for it is ideal because of the impedance switches that you can custom tailor it to what ever you have plus speakers and I like the Bottlehead products. Enjoy your Sex amp for you have made a good choice... I have found that it works good with everything.
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Do you prefer the STAX or HD800 for most music? I've only owned the HD800 but found it too bright for my tastes. Im looking to buy either the LCD-2 or get some midrange STAX and an SDR-7 to use with my SEX. I lean towards the LCD-2 because of the many genres of music I listen to, but I've never been able to properly audition a STAX headphone with my own music library.
I use the HD-800's with Bijou for almost everything and then the Denon D7000 with Beta 22 after that. These are my 2 favorite 'phones. While the vintage Stax & LCD 2's are both nice phones they are no match for the other two. The Stax will distort with heavy bass (explosions) while gaming they are very nice with music as long as they are not played to loud. They work the best with the SEX amp but just can't compare with the HD 800's or the Denons no matter how fed. They were bought in @ 1981 and 30 years makes a difference. My LCD 2r2 are hardly ever used and only for short periods of time because of the comfort level and I like the Senn's better.
Maybe one of these days I will improve my equipment to Stax 009 & Blue Hawaii for I know my amps are just average lower mid range. The Beta 22 is the best I have but I also wonder if the big money equipment will show me what I missing. A girlfriend in the mid 1970's, while breaking up with me, said that it don't take much to make me happy (she thought that was a negative trait) so right now I like what I have. If you want to get into Stax do yourself a favor and get a proper electrostatic setup from the start instead of going the SEX with SRD-7S/B route. I already had the Stax 'phones and needed a amp for an old friend...
Edited by Oberst Oswald - 3/22/13 at 6:19pm