IS the electro static headphone system the bEST??
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nakedtoes

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Those who has STAX or other electro static headphone systems pls comment.. How is it compare to RS1 with tube amps.. Is electro static direction the way to go?? thanks
 
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It depends entirely on how much you're willing to spend. Up to the STAX Omega 2/HE90, there's a dynamic system comparable with any sort of electrostatic rig.

So if you want to spend the kind of money that Omega 2's/HE90's with appropriately beefy amps require, then yes, electrostats would arguably be "best". If you have a more sane budget, there are dynamic systems that can compete.
 
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I would say different. Comparable but not better. It's all relative. I have never heard the he90 so I can't say it's the best.
 
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My guess is that dynamics will eventually equal, or surpass electrostatics. My point is that the HE90 appears to be the best of the electrostatics, and seems unlikely to be improved on. As for the dynamics, it seems to be a toss up between the R10 and the Qualia 010, but unlike electrostatics, there is no consensus agreement regarding which is best. So, I predict that an improvement on the R10 and Qualia will be forthcoming, while the HE90 will not be bettered by any electrostatic headphone. And, when the next generation of dynamic headphone emerges, it's likely to be better than (i.e., with better bass than) the best electrostatic headphone. Perhaps it may even be possible to develop a headphone that combines the two technologies.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by mikeg
Perhaps it may even be possible to develop a headphone that combines the two technologies.


AKG might have thought the same thing in 1978
 
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fyrfytrhoges

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why do you "guess" that the next generation of dynamics will surpass electrostats. and as is always the case, personal opinion plays a huge part and imo the bass with my electrostats is on par with any dynamic i have owned.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by fyrfytrhoges
why do you "guess" that the next generation of dynamics will surpass electrostats. and as is always the case, personal opinion plays a huge part and imo the bass with my electrostats is on par with any dynamic i have owned.


I agree with this comment wholeheartedly. The HE90 bass response is a force to be reckoned with. It's fast, tight, deep, controlled, and, always appropriate (meaning not over-done or bloated). In short, it's impactful and "just right" and blends seamlessly with the mids and highs. The Omega II's bass is perhaps even more impactful than the HE90's bass. It's definitely a more pronounced bass as the Omega II's give a "darker" presentation. As much as we could argue back and forth about which of these two excellent electrostat headphones has a "better" bass, we would be talking in both instances about superb bass. In fact, it is hard to find ANY dynamic headphones that produce this type of QUALITY bass. The PS-1's are about the only ones that come to mind.

Mike, I don't mean to go on a rant about your post, but this is something that has always bugged me a bit. I don't quite understand the old adage that electrostats can't produce 'visceral' bass. I guess this must come from the "speaker world", and I suspect there are a ton of wonderful scientific explanations about why cone-based dynamic drivers will thump you in the chest more so than planers, ribbons, or electrostatic transducers ever can. But in the "headphone world", we're not getting hit in the chest by anything anyway! Thus, in my opinion, based on my headphone listening experiences, it's nothing but a myth to say that electrostats can't produce the kind of bass that dynamic headphones can. FWIW, that's just not my experience at all, at least not with the top end stuff.
 
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mikeg

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My guess is based on the following two observations: 1) that no improvement in electrostatics beyond the HE90 has occured in >15 years, thus it seems that further development of this technology is unlikely; and 2) that developers of dynamic headphones are still struggling to further the technology (e.g., Sony's replacement of the R10 with the Qualia 010). Thus, if one technology has apparently reached it's limit (i.e., is at a dead end), while the other technology is still struggling to improve on its best dynamic headphones, it seems likely that dynamic headphone technology will progress further, while electrostatic headphone technology will not. At least, that's what I think.

Quote:

Originally Posted by fyrfytrhoges
why do you "guess" that the next generation of dynamics will surpass electrostats. and as is always the case, personal opinion plays a huge part and imo the bass with my electrostats is on par with any dynamic i have owned.


 
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fyrfytrhoges

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wow, first time for everything, did we just agree on something? youre right on the mark wmcmanus and i would offer that it is a sheep mentality that sometimes infiltrates headfi. someone who seems to be "in the know" and states something about a certain headphone and then everyone and their brother jumps on the bandwagon and agrees with it. ive heard the omegas once in my headphone career and they sounded fine in the bass department, and i have a step down from them, the 404s, and they seem to present bass perfectly on any cd and genre of music that i threw at them.
 
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fyrfytrhoges

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mikeg, i would only say this, if what you say is true, and thats a big if, because i dont know that the omegas have been out for 15 years and they are supposedly better than the next step down, the 404s, so id say thats an improvement. but if some dynamics came out that really made electrostats sound like ***** in peoples opinions, i think the companies making those electrostats would make a move to better those dynamics. my opinion, not any more valid than yours, so take it with a grain of salt because i certainly dont know everything.
 
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Wayne - I'm sure that you are right, especially since I've never heard the HE90. But, I think that some Head-Fi members who own, or heard, the HE60 commented on their lack of bass when compared to some dynamic headphones. But, to be quite honest, the Koss ESP9 was the last electrostatic headphone that I actually owned, and as I recall (but it's been >40 years since I heard it) it lacked bass as compared to the then current and similarly priced dynamic headphones. I assume, however, that the HE90 is at least to some degree an improvement on the ESP9. Just kidding, of course.
 
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There's some good points in this. While advancements are being made in sources and headphone amps there seems to be no real advancements in headphone technology. The fact the two top headphones from at least a decade or so, are still argubly the same ones today. Throw into the mix other headphones from days long gone like the grado hp-series and then it's not difficult to see.

At least Sony are trying regardless what people think about the end result. I mean the SA5K's are advanced for the price. Of course, it's sound is still being debated.

Wmcmanus>The "visceral bass" you talk of. Do you mean how much you "feel" it? I think the reason most headfiers comment about it is that they are use to dynamic speakers. I had never heard an electrostat speaker or headphone until I got my he60's. So they were my first experience of electrostats.

The Ps-1's don't really count as no headphone over a $1000 can produce that kind of hitting your eardrums feeling. Ps-1 is famed for this although it performs better overall if you take your time to amp it nicely and it can reward with a more balanced sound, this is of course unless your a total basshead like me.
 
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Isn't it amazing how a debate begins as soon as anyone questions the superiority of the HE90, or that of the R10, or whether the bass of dynamic headphones exceeds that of electrostatic ones. You've got to love these Head-Fi discussions.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by mikeg
My guess is based on the following two observations: 1) that no improvement in electrostatics beyond the HE90 has occured in >15 years, thus it seems that further development of this technology is unlikely; and 2) that developers of dynamic headphones are still struggling to further the technology (e.g., Sony's replacement of the R10 with the Qualia 010). Thus, if one technology has apparently reached it's limit (i.e., is at a dead end), while the other technology is still struggling to improve on its best dynamic headphones, it seems likely that dynamic headphone technology will progress further, while electrostatic headphone technology will not. At least, that's what I think.


I disagree with the bolded part in particular. It takes me a while to get there, but I think I do. Read on.

Mike, this is probably true, but mostly because of headphone marketplace considerations. There have been all sorts of companies that have entered and exited the ribbon/planer/electrostat speaker market during the past 15 years (BTW, each of these types of speaker designs is different but all are similar in the sense that they are nothing like dynamic designs). Precious few of these companies has been able to create enough of a splash to endure the growth pains that are necessary to survive (i.e., they tend not to reach a sales level that will lead to the economy of scales necessary to support their long-run profitability). The high-end audio market is a tough one to compete in for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a lot of hobbyists who LOVE what they are doing in the hobby can think of nothing more exciting than to do it for a living! Plus the barriors to entry are not significant; for most companies, $50k or less in capital will get them off and running. So the upstart companies keep coming out of the woodwork, and they are ALL thinking they can attract abnormally high profit margins!

So what's my point in all of this? Well, if it's something that I can see (and I'm not saying that I'm 100% "right" but I think what I've described is more or less accurate) then surely Sennheiser can see it! And if their counterpart ribbon/planer/electrostat companies in the speaker world are having a hard time surviving, then why would it be any easier for them to grow in the headphone marketplace? Maybe all of this is implicit in your assumptions, and it something that you just haven't bothered to state. If anything, I would think it would be easier to survive as an electrostat speaker manufacturer because at least they have: 1) a much wider audience of potential audiophile customers, with 2) much more disposable income, than is the case for an electrostat headphone manufacturer. I guess what I'm saying is that, like it or not, most audiophiles think that headphone listening is a joke (at worst) or should be reserved for those situations where it is absolutely necessary (at best). Until head-fi came along (and yes, we will one day rule the entire audiophile universe
) 99% of all of the Audiogon and Audio Asylum types of people wouldn't have given headphones a second thought. Head-fi is growing all of the time and this helps to create a market, but we're still a drop in the bucket.

So (((finally))) what I'm getting at is that Sennheiser and Stax and perhaps a handful of other companies are (in my estimation) fully capable of extending the electrostat headphone horizons well beyond what we know today, but it may not YET make sense for them to invest a huge amount in R&D and product development until there is more solid evidence that it will pay off for them to do so. It's not that it can't be done. You can always build a better mouse trap, but will anybody buy it? I've got no issues with your hoping for $3k or less "giant killer" electrostat headphone entrants, but suggest that you don't hold your breath while you wait.
 
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Wmcmanus

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fyrfytrhoges
wow, first time for everything, did we just agree on something?


I think so. Miracles never cease.


Quote:

ive heard the omegas once in my headphone career and they sounded fine in the bass department, and i have a step down from them, the 404s, and they seem to present bass perfectly on any cd and genre of music that i threw at them.


Although I cut it from this quote, I also agree about the bandwagon effect at head-fi. It happens everywhere else I frequent too (Audiogon, SH Forums, AVS Forum) so I guess it's just part of the turf. Well almost. The guys at Audio Asylum all think for themselves.

Ok, back to what I have quoted. I should have mentioned the 404's above as well because they're another great example of electrostats with excellent bass. I've found that they're a lot brighter and more forward than the Omega II's (so much so that I had to volume adjust considerably when comparing them side by side out of the 007t) but their bass response is full, extended, and crystal clear. Layered, in fact, much like the HE90's bass and overall they sound more like the HE90's than they do the Omega II's. Nothing is overdone about the 404's bass but nothing is noticably missing either. It seems pretty accurate to me at least.
 
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