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8 years ago . . .

post #1 of 286
Thread Starter 

I had a really nice set-up.  Stax 007 Mk II, Singlepower ES-1 amp (which actually worked flawlessly, which is noteworthy given the problems the company had), Musical Fidelity DAC. It was wonderful, but I sold it all, since our then toddler wasn't sleeping all the time any longer and we could enjoy a speaker-based 2 channel system.  But I miss my headphone rig, and need some advice how to get back in the saddle.  Eight years gone, and so much has changed.  I told my wife it would cost a small fortune to replicate what I had before, but she gave the go-ahead if that's what I wanted to do.  

 

1. I know that many will recommend the 009, but my gut tells me that that's not the way to go.  Feel free to convince me I'm wrong.

 

2.  My inclination is to try the top of the line HiFiMan or Audeze, leaning toward the latter (LCD-3).  How will it compare to the 007?

 

3.  I want an amp that is a reasonably good value, so the Schiit Mjolnir comes to mind, based on research I've done.  If I end up not loving the Audeze, I'd like an amp that would work as well with the top-of-the-line HE-6.

 

4.  Source is my iMac.  I want to be able to dabble in some hi-rez stuff, and to have a DAC that I won't feel the need to upgrade for awhile.  I've looked at the Exasound DSD DACs, but would like some advice.  The Exasound is $3000+, but I certainly wouldn't mind spending less.

 

What I love more than anything is a system's ability to deliver, in spades, "inner detail."  That's what my earlier system game me, those extraordinary moments, not of bombast, but of the smallest, clearest, most shocking inner details in the music.  

 

Please help me find what I'm looking for.  

post #2 of 286

Hmm you could go Audeze if you want but from what I hear stats give a certain level of detail I do not think you will get with the LCD-3.  I own a LCD-3 and if you want a very smooth natural sounding headphone it may be for you.  But if it is the detail you want back I would start with a Sennheiser HD-800.  Pair that with a nice amp like a Woo Audio WA-5, DNA Stratus, Cavalli Liquid Glass, or even a HeadAmp GS-X if you want a SS amp. As far as a DAC goes maybe the new PS audio DAC, possibly wait for the new Schiit DAC, or perhaps a Audio-GD master 7.  Have not listened to a 007 MK II but after owning a LCD-3 I am not so sure that is going to give you the sound you want.  I actually kind of like my LCD-XC better than my LCD-3 at the moment so if you want something open look at the Audeze LCD-X instead.  Hopefully this helps.

post #3 of 286

If you like detail, clarity and soundstage the HD800 is king if you ask me. Stock and un-EQ'd it can however be bit cold and analytical.

 

The LCD-2/3/X are more laid back in their presentation, more forgiving towards bad recordings, they have a smaller soundstage but very visceral bass. It's less about delicacy and more about a meaty and full presentation.

 

The HE-500 and HE-6 are quite similar in character and to me they feel a little bit like the HD650 on steroids. I personally like the soundstage better than the LCD-2/3/X. Many here including myself feel that the HE-500 is a real audiophile bargain. I'm not the hugest fan of hifiman build quality and comfort though.

 

All these headphones are also very different in their amping demands, I don't think I know a single headphone amp I can recommend universally for all of them except for seriously expensive end-gear stuff.

 

So... as you see nothing is quite so simple. :D

 

On a budget my choice would be a HD650 or HE500 with amp powerful enough to drive them. Burson HA-160 isn't bad for these two and can be found cheap on the second hand market.

 

Stepping up a bit an EQ'd HD800 can be very, very nice and is actually easier to drive than the HD650. But very picky about the synergy. M-stage and schiit vali are good entry level amps. I personally also like driving the HD800 with sabre DAC's since I feel it adds to the HD800 natural clarity and detail, but many feel the opposite...

 

Of course you can always spend much more money but I think I read between the lines you didn't want to empty the piggy bank completely...


Edited by TwoEars - 3/8/14 at 10:22pm
post #4 of 286

What is your budget ? Many here would be able to recommend something much easier based off of that.

post #5 of 286
Thread Starter 

I appreciate all the replies!  On the issue of budget, $7500 (for headphones, amp, DAC) is what I would feel comfortable spending.  I could go a touch higher.

 

I've been out of the game too long to have heard the HD800, but the Sennheiser house sound (HD650, for example) isn't exactly my cup of tea.

post #6 of 286

The HD800 is the complete opposite of the HD650. 

post #7 of 286

I think you'll enjoy the Audeze, they seem like a good pick for you (and for me :D).

 

As far as DACs go, there are so many of them out there nowadays... If you're leaning towards hi-res, perhaps a DSD compatible DAC with a good USB implementation would be wise. But again, there are many many options to choose from. I'm also looking for a DSD compatible DAC these days and feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices, so your guess is as good as mine I'd say. Audio-GD gear seems very interesting (and reasonably priced), you might want to check them out.

 

Amp wise, since you seem to enjoy tubes, I would consider something in the Eddie Current line-up, they are held in high regard and I don't think you can go wrong with an EC amp. If I ever upgrade from my Singlepower I think that's probably what I would buy.

 

I also came back to head-fi after ~8 years just a few months ago, and I'm just as overwhelmed by the amount of new choices.


Edited by elmoe - 3/9/14 at 5:20am
post #8 of 286
For $7500 you could really have your pick of most gear. Really comes down to preference. If youre trying to replicate your old stax setup though, id start with stax again;)
post #9 of 286

i wouldnt go lcd3 if you want detail, everything is smoothed and dull

post #10 of 286
Quote:
Originally Posted by bahamaman View Post
 

I appreciate all the replies!  On the issue of budget, $7500 (for headphones, amp, DAC) is what I would feel comfortable spending.  I could go a touch higher.

 

I've been out of the game too long to have heard the HD800, but the Sennheiser house sound (HD650, for example) isn't exactly my cup of tea.

 

So if you have that kind of money let's skip all the small stuff... Here's your rig:

 

Headphone:  Stax SR-009

Amp:            Headroom Blue Hawaii Electrostatic Amp

Dac:             Anedio D2 or Matrix X-Sabre

 

 

You're not going to find anyting better than that. The SR-009 is widely regarded as the best headphone currenly in production. See here for reference: http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13

 

 

The Headroom Blue Hawaii is Tyll of Inner Fidelity's personal favorite amp for that headphone. He has two of the most experienced and trusted pair of ears in the headphone business. See here: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/listening-stax-sr-900-and-great-headphone-amplifiers-headamp-blue-hawaii?page=1

 

 

The DAC choice is a bit controveral and while some people will scream "no you can't use a sabre dac!!" I personally love this chip. It's very detailed and highly resolving with lots of texture. I have heard many other dac's that are more forgiving but none that hasn't been at least a little bit veiled in comparison. If you want to really look inside the music this is the kind of dac you need. For the price both are fantastic.

 

Don't spend too much money on cables, not a cable believer.


Edited by TwoEars - 3/9/14 at 9:43am
post #11 of 286
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoEars View Post

So if you have that kind of money let's skip all the small stuff... Here's your rig:

Headphone:  Stax SR-009
Amp:            Headroom Blue Hawaii Electrostatic Amp
Dac:             Anedio D2 or Matrix X-Sabre


You're not going to find anyting better than that. The SR-009 is widely regarded as the best headphone currenly in production. See here for reference: http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13


The Headroom Blue Hawaii is Tyll of Inner Fidelity's personal favorite amp for that headphone. He has two of the most experienced and trusted pair of ears in the headphone business. See here: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/listening-stax-sr-900-and-great-headphone-amplifiers-headamp-blue-hawaii?page=1


The DAC choice is a bit controveral and while some people will scream "no you can't use a sabre dac!!" I personally love this chip. It's very detailed and highly resolving with lots of texture. I have heard many other dac's that are more forgiving but none that hasn't been at least a little bit veiled in comparison. If you want to really look inside the music this is the kind of dac you need. For the price both are fantastic.

Don't spend too much money on cables, not a cable believer.

Good luck getting that for $7500.
post #12 of 286

Yeah that kind of setup is going to run him well above the 10k mark.

post #13 of 286
Thread Starter 
Nope, no way could I get approval from the boss to spend 13k. One option that might work would be to pick up a pair of O2s. I realize they're not the 009s, but I thought they were pretty amazing at the time. I would not likely consider a Stax amp, but it seems that all the other options start at 5k. One exception is the Woo GES, but it doesn't seem to get much attention or love. Thoughts, especially in terms of amps that won't completely break the bank? Thanks for all your thoughts thus far!
post #14 of 286
The BHSE is $5600 plus taxes and shipping. The SR-009s are $4450 plus shipping and taxes. Already way over $7500 (it would sound fabulous though!). Also, having owned the Anedio D2 DAC, it's a good DAC but not a great one. I would look at the eXaSound e22 DAC (their new flagship at $3499) as it will also play DSD and I have found that my ripped SACDs through my MA-1 have given me that step above red book CDs in natural sound and enjoyment. Tons more natural detail and a more relaxed, analog like sound in my experience. The new PS Audio Direct Stream DAC is $4000, so that is a little tight in your budget but I'm sure that it will sound quite good as well. It's due out any day now, I believe.

As others have said, I believe that Stax will give you the detail that you are looking for. I don't think the Audeze house sound is going to meet your needs. I had the LCD-3s and they were nice but not highly detailed. Headamp GS-X MkII with the Sennheiser 800s or AKG 812s would be highly detailed and enjoyable! I am using Purist Audio Design cables and have gotten very good results with them.

Enjoy and good luck!

Don
post #15 of 286

The Blue Hawaii is about 4.5k second hand around here, the SR-009 is around 3k second hand, X-sabre is about 1.1k new.

 

That's 8.6 k.... just FYI.

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