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It's transparency, detail retrieval and instrumental separation like no other. Something that needs to be heard to be fully understood.
Correct, they do share a similar sound signature.
I agree with all the comments so far. I'm not a big fan of the HD800, but I do appreciate it's technical abilities. The 009 simply betters it in every way. In fact, it's the best headphone ever made IMO.
That being said, I'll never own one, so it's not worth the price for me. It's a personal decision that you have to make. I recommend you listening to it first. You may be amazed and have to have it, or you may think, that sounds great but $5k can buy a lot of other great things.
I own both the HD800 and Stax 009. However, I think the amp also affects the sound and obviously there's no way to factor out the effects of the amp since you can't use the same amp with both headphones.
I have been listening to the HD800's with a Cavalli Liquid Gold and also driven directly from an AK120 and an HRT Microstreamer. The SR-009 I use with a Stax 323A amp. I think the 323 amp is definitely a limiting factor holding back the 009's. I am waiting to receive a new prototype Russian electrostatic amp which I am told really make the 009's "sing".
My situation is also unique since I tend to always listen to my music and movies through my software, Out Of Your Head. So that factors out any inherent imaging capabilities of the headphones. The most important aspect of the sound for use with my software is the detail and speed.
Both headphones are incredibly good for detail and speed. But I still prefer the Stax by quite a big margin. The HD800's seem overly bright and can be "harsh" sounding with some content. And I LOVE detail, but to me the HD800's seem a little exaggerated in the high end. The HD800 also seems to lack bass and even mid bass for me. Where as the Stax just sound richer and smoother, yet have just as much detail and they are very "fast", meaning they can reproduce all the subtle room reflections and details.
Bass wise, I think the 009's are much better. They just have more bass and mid bass. They sound richer to me.
Are the Stax worth it? If you have the money, then I think definitely. But with the 009's in order to get the most out of them, I think you also have to spend a lot of money on an amp that is better than the amps Stax has to offer. That makes the price differential much greater compared to the HD800's.
Rereading my post, I think I have to make a clarification. When I said "No headphone is good enough to solve your personal problems.", I didn't mean it as a personal attack. I was referring to my point about the listener needing to be in the mood to listen to whatever music it is they're listening to in order to get 'into it' (the soul thing), and that the headphone/amp/etc isn't to blame if they can't.
n3rdling and I have an understanding anyway, nothing was taken personally.
"I am waiting to receive a new prototype Russian electrostatic amp which I am told really make the 009's "sing".
Can you give us some more info,on this amp?
This amp is being custom built in Moscow by a designer/engineer who specializes in hi-fi gear. I have heard a speaker amp and DAC that he built and it was amazing. We compared the speaker amp and DAC with some very high end, commercially available gear and found his gear to be on par if not better than some very expensive gear. So he knows what he is doing, for sure.
Anyway, fast forward, he got a chance to look at the Stax 007tII amp and was amazed at how bad he thought it was in terms of design and sound. So, he took it upon himself and another Russian friend of mine, to build what he considers the ultimate electrostatic amp for the SR-009's.
I have not seen it or heard it. But from my understanding, it is a solid state, fully balanced electrostatic amp with a DAC in one box. There are no photos, no website, etc. It's not a commercial product. He is supposed to either ship me his prototype or bring it to me before the end of this year for listening tests.
We'll see when I finally get to hear this "mythical beast"...
I'll definitely post on Head-Fi when I get it.
OP, if you got money to spend, just go for Stax 009. HD800 is too mainstream as a headphone sound. 009 is different level of sound in headphone.
I have both the HD800 and a SR-009.
Started with the HD800, then got the SR-009 thinking I'd sell the HD800.
However I find for tracks with detailed subbass the HD800 sounds more natural and has way more resolution than the SR-009 every time, this could of course be due to the amp I'm using, but I've ended up keeping both.
That, and that the HD800 is lighter and more comfortable, are pretty much my only "issues" with the SR-009's. I realize it may seem like I'm putting the SR-009 in a bad light, but like someone said earlier in this thread, it beats the HD800 in every other aspect, and I'd guess the SR-009 gets 70-80% of my listening time at home
Using a Benchmark DAC2 for source, HD800 directly into the DAC2, and SRM-323S/LLmk2 as amping for the SR-009.
(I had the pleasure of trying the Bryston BDA-2 too, very nice indeed, I had a hard time deciding on DAC2 vs. BDA-2 )
It seems silly to me to buy something just because other people have not bought it. The HD800 is an excellent headphone, but difficult to compare to the SR-009. Principally because you're approaching $10,000 before you have an SR-009 system with no obvious bottlenecks., whereas you can build a fantastic HD-800 system for half of that, easily.
If you're willing to do it right, go for the SR-009. It's better.
If you're using the SRM323S, then that would explain your "sub bass" comments...I had a similar issue with the LL. On the KGSSHV they rumble and offer detail and layering in the bass like to other I've heard.
Thanks for your reply
I look forward to your review of the new amp & congratulations.
I'm a bit of the new kid on the block,concerning Stax gear,and do not have the 009,but,
IMHO,the HD800 is one of the finest headphones made,& with a good quality tube amp,the sq is outstanding
That being said,I sold all my gear,all my tubes,once I heard the stax...selling the HD800 gear was not an easy decision to make.
For my ears,and my genres of music,I find the Stax different,I'm not saying better , the stax setup gets me more involved ,and I become totally engulfed with the music,and it like nothing I've ever heard.,for me it is the ultimate.
I briefly listened to the 009 at the NY meet recently,and although extremely detailed,and comfortable,on some music,I found the headphone,somewhat pixelated/artificial,but
maybe I am missing something>
Also,testing a $5k headphone with a $10K amp,in a crowded room with 90 guys around you ,is not the ideal listening environment.
What's his name?