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Recommend me a good <$2000 electrostatic setup

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys and Girls,

 

Like the title says, I'm looking for a good under $2000 electrostatic setup. This would be my first foray into the electrostatic headphone arena. I'm kind of looking for a lighter, airier, more open sound to that of my darker, heavier, and more intimate sounding Audeze LCD rig. My only stipulation is that it should be on the warmer side of neutral. I recently let go my HD800 because it was a little too fatiguing for me in the treble.

 

Would any such electrostatic setup fit this description and be a worthy yin to my LCD's yang? Thanks in advance!


Edited by BRAC - 3/6/13 at 9:16am
post #2 of 41

Stax SR-507 + Stax SRM 323s amp. That would be just a shade under $2000, and would sound incredible. Elusive Disc also has this demo on sale: http://www.elusivedisc.com/STAX-SR-407-HEADPHONE-SRM-006TS-AMP-COMBO-120v-SILVER/productinfo/STXSRS4170D/ with the SR-407 + SRM-006TS.

 

(I am selling what I think is a significantly better package here on head-fi, but I am not going to self-promote as only you can decide that for yourself. I like the Koss ESP-950 better than any Stax headphone, including the Omega II.)

post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post

Stax SR-507 + Stax SRM 323s amp. That would be just a shade under $2000, and would sound incredible. Elusive Disc also has this demo on sale: http://www.elusivedisc.com/STAX-SR-407-HEADPHONE-SRM-006TS-AMP-COMBO-120v-SILVER/productinfo/STXSRS4170D/ with the SR-407 + SRM-006TS.

 

(I am selling what I think is a significantly better package here on head-fi, but I am not going to self-promote as only you can decide that for yourself. I like the Koss ESP-950 better than any Stax headphone, including the Omega II.)

I have seen that Koss ESP-950 package online. What are the differences between the lower range Stax and the Koss 950?

post #4 of 41

I have Stax 507, 407, 007, Sigmas, Koss electrostacs, HD800s, various amplifiers to keep the list directly pertinent to the things you are curious about.

 

I won't argue against any on the list, including HD800s.  But no matter how the 800s are cabled and amplified there will be a lot of treble energy which could fatigue sensitive ears, especially if they are the main source of listening.  After lots of recent testing with cables and amps I am convinced that an enthusiastic (that wording will keep the flamers away I hope) treble at the least.  When the next generation comes out that have a less flamboyant treble you'll then find lots of HD800 folks coming out of the woodwork extolling the improved treble.  You are not imagining things, much as I admire my own late serial number HD800s, which I use and am not selling.  

 

The Koss electrostatics are a bargain IMO.  After listening to my Stax and HD800 for some critical evaluations the other day I threw in the Koss for the fun of it.  I did not find myself noting what I was missing, I found myself revelling in some of my favorite music that I had just listened to on the others headphones, thinking how wonderful the Koss are.  Do they some detail the 800s have?  Yes.  But they have good detail.  Are they mIssing some of the top end transparency of the Stax?  Sure.  Is the bass not as detailed as the HD800?  Sure, but upper bass is fuller.  We could go on and on picking apart the sonic traits, but they are a $700 (if you hit it right on Amazon) package with amp and cans.  That is a flat out sonic bargain in my book.  With a lfietime warranty. 

 

The Koss are sweet, nicely detailed, easy on the ears, pretty dynamic, have nice bass, have that "electrostatic elegance" in sound, and are fun to listen to.  I won't say they are the only answer for someone who finds the HD800 too fatiguing, but at the price I think they should be a very strong contender.         

post #5 of 41
Thread Starter 

That's a great write up Operakid. So, you don't think the Koss 950 would be too much of a compromise when comparing to, say, something like the Stax 507/323 combo suggested above? That Stax combo is more than double the cost of the Koss, so would you say that it's 10, or 15, or maybe 20% better? I do understand that these comparisons can be hard to put into numbers, but.....
 


Edited by BRAC - 3/6/13 at 10:54am
post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAC View Post

I have seen that Koss ESP-950 package online. What are the differences between the lower range Stax and the Koss 950?

It has a different housesound than stax. I also prefered the koss 950 system to the O2MkI+KGSS.

post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAC View Post

I have seen that Koss ESP-950 package online. What are the differences between the lower range Stax and the Koss 950?

I think the Koss is a little less bright with a fuller, richer sound. Operakid's write-up is pretty good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAC View Post

That's a great write up Operakid. So, you don't think the Koss 950 would be too much of a compromise when comparing to, say, something like the Stax 507/323 combo suggested above? That Stax combo is more than double the cost of the Koss, so would you say that it's 10, or 15, or maybe 20% better? I do understand that these comparisons can be hard to put into numbers, but.....
 

I actually think it's quite a bit the other way; can't really quantify it, though. The only problem with the Koss is a fairly crappy amplifier. Pair it with a Stax amp, and you've got an incredible rig.

post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 

Great feedback! The Koss 950 is looking better and better. And, I like the fact that it won't cost me a kidney for entry.

 

Which "low cost" Stax amps do you guys recommend for the Koss 950?

 

Oh, and I've seen a few 007 MK1's for sale recently, are they a large enough step up to justify the going rates? I'm kind of curious, even though that headphone and an amp would likely put me way over my budget.
 

post #9 of 41

I agree, the Koss is softer/sweeter on top.  If one wants to argue for Koss then they would say the Stax is a bit bright.  IF one wants to argue for Stax then they would say the Koss is too dull.

 

I find enough high end detail but still listenable.

 

As far as Koss amp being bad, well, with all Stax amps and Stax headphones I have used I feel I have more distance between me and the performer than with the Koss setup.  

 

In business for 3 decades I have seen the incredible attraction power of "sexy" audio goods for guys and the amazing perception that can result in inferior sounding "sexy goods" being judged superior to cheaper looking little boxes.  Appearance and marketing absolutely rule.  Price being higher on top of that is better yet for positive impression points.  "New and updated" trumps older, even if new and updated is not better or even a bit worse.

 

Everyone reading this is now shaking their heads saying "no, that does not apply to me, I'm immune from bias because something is more expensive, the new one, known as the best, is machined from billet."  We won't get into that debate.  But I will say that the status of the Koss electrostatic is hurt by its age, accessibility, low cost, unassuming plastic amp, and lack of marketing and product sexiness. 

 

Better than my Stax?  I won't say that.  Worse?  I don't think I can say that either, except for 007 and 009 (keeping the discussion to current products also).  They are worth listening to.  I won't present them as the best, but they are real neutral natural nicely detailed natural sounding rigs.

 

Forgive the rambling, this was written between phone calls so the train of thought is not the most linear. 

post #10 of 41

don't get 507! u will be back at 800's fatiguing sound! Get either Stax Lambda Nova signature/classic if you want a airy electrostatic hp. it's more even sounding then many other lambdas. You could also go for the mk1's they got more air then your lcd's. 

post #11 of 41

If the HD800 is too bright for you I am not sure you would like any of the Lambdas as they tend to be somewhat edgy in treble.

 

I had the Koss 950's for several years.  The Koss amp is usable but not as good as a Stax.  But even with the Koss  run from a Stax amp, I preferred the Lambdas (404 and LNS) and I eventually sold the Koss. 

 

Tonally the SR003 is very listenable and can be had, with a Stax amp for less than $1000.00.   It is  a bit too recessed in the treble for some people but the recently released SR003Mk2 model might be  better in that regard.

 

My personal nirvana are Sigma/404's and Sigma Pros. You occasionally find  a Sigma Pro for sale. The Sigma/404 is a custom modded phone and is pretty rare. The tonal balance is somewhat like the 003 but with better treble, especially the Sigma/404.  However their real selling point is the more natural soundfield because the drivers are mounted away  and ahead of the ear and which is unlike virtually any other phone..   Both of mine sound good  driven by old SRM1 MK2 amps so you might get at least a Sigma Pro plus amp for under $2K.

 

You probably want to hear one at a meet before you decide that this is the way to go. 


Edited by edstrelow - 3/6/13 at 1:25pm
post #12 of 41

Lambda nova signature/classic has the least etch of the lambdas (i've heard) they sound way nicer then 800's. 

post #13 of 41

If you are willing to go with used you could go with some of the above suggestions.  I also love my Stax Sigmas.  I was assuming you wanted to go with new.  

 

As far as new Stax having "etch", I would contend that it is a lot less than HD800.  More than Koss, yes.  More than the listed old Stax, yes.  More estch than Sigmas, yes.  

post #14 of 41

Sorry I did not see this question of yours:   That Stax combo is more than double the cost of the Koss, so would you say that it's 10, or 15, or maybe 20% better? I do understand that these comparisons can be hard to put into numbers, but.....

 

You are right, numbers are hard.  I had just listened to the Stax and then went right to the Koss.  I had not listened to Koss in a month.  I was surprised....there were things I liked better, more of a direct sound, more transparent to the source.  Not more detail.  Less of an electronic artifice (and I don't mean brightness), as unobnoxious that artifice was with the Stax, between me and the performer.  The Stax sounded like more electronics and less direct to me.  So I can't say that for me the Stax combo is any better.  Just different.  

 

That's just me.  I'm not trying to sell you anything, I have no connection to Koss, just trying to help get good, smooth, neutral sound.  I guess I empathized and connected with you as 90% of high end audio exhibits and systems in customers' homes hurt my ears.  I'm in it for the music, and when I hear folks not be able to listen due to fatigue I feel bad for them.  

 

I'm not trying to be contrary to above posters, there are no bad suggestions and maybe some great ones with those classic Stax.    

post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 

I would actually prefer to go new if possible. Buying used means that I have to wait for items to pop up and who knows how long that could take. Plus, I live in Canada where this type of gear is significantly more rare. I suppose buying out of country is still an option, but I'd rather not.


Edited by BRAC - 3/6/13 at 2:39pm
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