Mr Speakers Voce Electrostatic headphone thread
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There is a Voce prototype impressions thread but I feel that now the Mr S Voce is a fully fledged production model it warrants a thread of its own.

I have used a Voce for several months and my music sounds enjoyable and “realistic”. I offer a few observations which are of course my opinion.
You could say that the popular impression of how an Electrostatic phone sounds has largely been dictated by Stax models and they have been characterised as being lacking in bass, light and ethereal and so on. Stax lovers who have used more powerful amplifiers know this is not necessarily the case.

We must acknowledge the wonderful job Stax have done in keeping the electrostatic headphone alive in the market. Secondly the enormous contributions from Kevin Gilmore, Birgir Gudjonsson, Headamp and others have developed the high-end ES scene. It is now viable for other manufacturers to enter the market. Several have made vanity projects and a well known German manufacturer has produced a system whose price includes a free Mercedes car (which they somehow forget to deliver). British humour aside, it is very good that MrSpeakers have produced their own ES phone which is at a sensible price for the current market, and is winning many friends. The KGSShv, Carbon, BH and Grounded Grid all drive it to plentiful volume.

My view is that the Voce has a good tonal balance, the separation and realism of instruments is good and to me music sounds like it should. It is well made, not at all bad looking, comfortable, has a soft pliable cable, and comes with a clever stand/storage solution included in the price. It absolutely deserves to take a significant place in the electrostatic market.
 
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I agree with yor assessment of the VOCE, it has earned its place in my collection.
Here it is showing the SR009 how to hang. :ksc75smile:

20180802_160926.jpg
 
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Any direct comparisons to the SR-009?
 
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Any direct comparisons to the SR-009?
Impressions on MrSpeakers VOCE

First of all. This is a wonderful electrostatic headphone. PERIOD.

If you don’t have much time to read the entire thing, you can stop right here.


Please forgive me not to post the photos. I will take some on the weekends.

The amp I am using is KG high voltage Grounded Grid. The detailed setup is in my signature.


What does the whole package include?
1) VOCE with the cable on it. (cable is removable.)
2) 3 filters (similar to AEON flow, but different materials. I will go into details later about the filters)
3) A complimentary tool to remove the screw and a soft cloth.
4) It should come with a display box, which will be sent in two weeks.


At first, I was struggling how to give a clear impression of the bass, midrange, and treble like everybody else. But I think it is still a subjective thing. Since different people have different taste and listen to different types of music, I eventually decided to post this impression based on the comparison among VOCE, SR-009, and SR-007MK1. It will be much clearer for those people who own these headphones. It also benefits the people who have listened to these headphones so that they can understand what I am talking about.


If you are searching for the comparison between 009 and 007MK1, please go to Stax thread. I posted something a few months ago.


Okay. Let’s get started.


VOCE vs SR009:

In short, it feels like “concert” vs “studio”.

At the very beginning, when I listened to VOCE, I felt it is an okay headphone which lost some of the details. But I was wrong. After a careful comparison, it is the difference of tonality. VOCE has a larger driver and deeper pads than 009 so the music becomes a bit further from me instead of closer to my face. This feeling will make me think the details are missing. It is like somebody talks to me 10 feet from me and 1 foot from me. Everything is the same, but it gives different feelings. So I am pretty sure I am not losing the details. Based on the same reason, I felt I am actually getting a slightly better imaging and stage. The soundstage of VOCE has similar height and width to 009. But the depth is clearly deeper on VOCE. I have drawn this picture to illustrate the soundstage when I am listening to the same playlist. Hence, I feel VOCE has a concert feeling presentation like I am an audience in the crowd. 009 has a studio feeling presentation like I am an album producer to do an analytical listening.



The bass on VOCE has great extension and quantity. The tonality is closer to the planar magnetic headphones. Nothing is exaggerated. Normally, I like the video of launching the SpaceX to test the bass on the headphone. The video is attached. It looks cool and, more importantly, sounds awesome. After 45s the rocket launched, the rocket should reach the supersonic speed. On 009, I can feel the rocket is almost exploding. Some oxidation sparks can be heard from 009. But VOCE gives a more accurate sound. I personally feel more realistic since I have watched the launch of a rocket in person a few years ago. In conclusion, compared to 009, the upper bass on VOCE is more neutral. I would give the edge to VOCE on the bass.


The midrange is awesome on both VOCE and 009. I have heard both male and female vocals. I personally prefer VOCE on male vocal and 009 on female vocal. On VOCE, upper bass flows into the lower mids that transition into the middle midrange with unmatched cohesion. On 009, it is still pretty revealing of recordings mixed too hot in the upper mids.

The treble is the biggest difference here. The treble on 009 is unmatched. I have found few headphones can compete with 009. 009 has the most transparent, most resolving, and most focused treble. VOCE, on the other hand, is more balanced and has a decent extension.

One thing I need to mention is the sensitivity of both headphones. I normally turn my volume pot by a quarter on 009. But, on VOCE, I need to turn to almost half to provide enough juice to VOCE.

In the end, it always comes down to the personal preference. My best bet is comparing both headphones by yourself and choosing the one you like. Or keeping both like me.


VOCE vs 007MK1:

The smoothness and the rich tonality of 007 MK1 always have a special connection to me. It always draws me into music I listen to and lets me forget I am wearing a pair of headphones. VOCE is like a chameleon. It is more versatile. It can do a very decent job to watch movies, play games, and stream HIFI music from Tidal.

The main difference here is the midrange. I think people who own the 007MK1 will understand what I am talking about. This headphone is unique because of its uncomparable midrange presentation, organic and liquid. VOCE is just more neutral.

Tonality ranking:

Warm side Bright side
007MK1 < VOCE < 009

This is just a simple comparison. It does not mean 009 is too bright or 007 is too warm.

VOCE has more bass quantity. But 007MK1 also has quality bass. The treble on VOCE is more transparent and has more air.

Overall, VOCE is like a combination of 009 and 007MK1 with some delicate EQ.


Finally, FILTERS!

There are 3 filters included. The materials in the parathesis () are the things I am guessing based on looking and touching those. Please correct me if I am wrong @mrspeakers .

I did not spend a lot of time trying these filters. I will just leave some of the notes I wrote.


Thick foam filter: (Polyurethane foams)

I can feel the male vocal (upper bass) has less presence. The high frequency is attenuated.


Thin black filter: (Synthetic felt)

I feel it is a damping material. The saxophone will sound less realistic when using this filter.


White filter: (Polyester fiber)

The high frequency is less so that it feels like the bass is enhanced. The filter itself is really thin. So I feel it has less effect than the black foam.


SUMMARY:


I feel VOCE earns its place in the market of high-end electrostatic headphones. Although I cannot say VOCE is superior to any Stax headphones, it can be a strong competitor to challenge the Stax. The neutral but musical presentation from VOCE gives it versatility and possibilities. Therefore, I have more options each time I choose one headphone from my collections and enjoy the rest of evening. But I know I will probably intuitively choose VOCE when I have no idea which specific one I want to choose. Considering the current market filling with many headphones over $3K, VOCE will probably be a good example to draw many enthusiasts into the electrostatic world.
I wrote one when I received my VOCE. Might be helpful for you.
 
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Any direct comparisons to the SR-009?
I did some on the other thread...should we repost or link to our impression and comparisons?
 
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I have now had the MrSpeakers Voce in my collection for about 2 months and been using them on a daily basis. The headphones i have in my weekly rotation are the HD800, Shure 1540 for closed back listening and Shure 846 when i am on the go. And the short story is that the Voce surpasses them all in just about every category.

Other headphones i currently own are the HD700, Fidelio X2, Shure 535, Sennheiser HD600, Audio Technica 50, Beyer dt-770 and a bunch of lowfi cans. Some high end cans i have owned are the Audeze LC 2.2 and Stax L500. The Amps i currently use is the Auralic Taurus mk1 for the dynamic and a Stax SRM-353x and Stax SRM-006ts for the electrostatic phones. They are both connected to a Hegel HD25 DAC and i am using a PC as source.

I have been using the HD800 daily now for almost 6 years. I have had many other headphones that came and went but the clarity, resolution and sound stage of the HD800 has made them a stayer. However the treble on HD800 can be quite hard on certain recordings. I also use the headphones for gaming and the pin point accuracy of spacial positioning in games is the best i have heard with the HD800. So why the Voce?

A few months ago i was passing by one of the largest hifi-stores in Norway and i had some time to kill and went in to look and listen to the headphone selection. The seller asked me what i was looking for in a headphone which i explained clarity and resolution and i ended up in the electrostatic corner. I have heard most of the top end dynamic headphones but never paid any attention to the electrostatic before. I was given a set of Stax L700 pared with a SRM-006ts and was taken by surprise of the amazing sound quality. Had a set of HD800s and did some A/B testing and the electrostatic phones definitely had some interesting qualities.

The week after i got a great deal on a Stax 006ts and a set of L500 phones and jumped on. After a week with these i was missing something compared to the L700 and went back to the store. Again i listen through all the Stax models including SR007&009 and concluded on the L700 as the way to go. However they had a pair of Voce phones that i hadnt listen because of price but i had a go. Long story short i went home with a set of Voce headphones.

Before i talk about the sound i say a few words about the build quality of the Voce. The Lamda series from Stax is a joke when it come to build quality. Yes, they sound good, but i have 100dollar headphones with better quality feel compared to the Lamda series. The Voce on the other hand would give even the most picky German engineers goose bumps. It looks and feels as a 3000dollar headphone. The subtle beed blasted finish on the cans, the super light but unbreakable Nitinol metal headband and the soft leather pads. Stax needs to step up their game. The walnut display case that is included also adds to the quality feeling.

When it comes to the sound quality the Voce has the resolution of the sr009 and the L700 but the Voce also has a fantastic low end. Comparing the Voce to the HD800 it surpasses them in all areas exept maybe the with og the sound stage. Where the HD800 are harsh the Voce is smooth as silk, where the HD800 is light (however accurate) in the low end the Voce has a rich and deep bass without loss of resolution. I have also been very surprised with the speed and dynamics of the Voce. The 88mm driver has an amazing respons and the attack is without competition compared to my other headphones. They have the resolution, clarity of the HD800 but adds a wonderful low end and a smoothness that the HD800 lacks.

One of the other qualities i really like with the HD800 is that i can have them on the head for 5 hours straight without any hotspots and issues. This also goes for the Voce with the expetion that the leather pads be a bit warm on hot days. Also i wish that they had a bit longer cable but they are user replaceable so i am sure longer ones will be available.

In conclusion the Voce is the best headphones i have ever heard and i literally feel i treat myself when i put them on in the evening, sit back and listen to its smooth tones. If you are in the market for some high en cans you need to give them a listen.

A final note i would like to add. The wooden case that came with my cans had some blemishes on top (probably some glue residue). I contacted the seller and he contacted MrSpeakers. Meanwhile i sent a email to MrSpeaker to get some advice on what amps they recommend. Was a bit surprised when i got a long reply from Dan himself with several of his own recommendations. And about the wooden display box, Dan sent me a spanking new one to me in Norway and i could keep the old one, awesome. Thank you to Dan for the great service and also for making the worlds best headphones!
 
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From the BHSE and the Dave DAC. Don't underestimate the DAC here. The Dave is fabulous. Impression both after 20 or 40 seconds and hours, numerous sessions.
The larger driver comes off as, sounds natural. The 009 and 009S are quite a bit (as in dramatically) more detailed. I didn't think Voce and 009 would differ quite that much. I much prefer the 009s diaphragm and tension especially, but I like the 009 electrode itself without the etching around each hole most. The 009 has the most tone of the three.

It's honestly tough to compete with the r&d at Stax, referring to what had better be a great next headphone..

Many and smaller holes would be better at the electrode itself for a more even drive/transmission field. .35mm or .4mm a piece. Dan should chemically mill the electrodes. The ratio of diaphragm to stator distance:to hole size should become greater than 1 in a full size headphone.

I do admire MrSpeakers efforts and like the build quality. I think they are a bit expensive for what the sound (detail - especially) is like and probably liked the Utopia better. [The audeze lcd 4 and he1000 and HD800 were close behind the Utopia as well]
The larger driver is a neat/refreshing feature in and of (by) itself.
I think a much better headphone can/could easily be done though. I also think people should at least have both a 009 and Voce to make any judgement.

At first I liked the Voce more (on initial listen the larger driver impresses), but after time listening it was clear it is not pulling weight in the detail-department compared to the 009S especially.
At first I thought 009s was simply slightly bass light compared to 009, moreover though with more listening time, as in 10 or 20 minutes i was convinced the 009s pulls/produces more fundamental detail than the 009.

It is tough to say which is more accurate between 009s/009 of the two without a live performer or instruments for reference.
The tension on the 009s, 009 diaphragm is interesting if trivial where their 1st and 2nd order resonances are.

I'm going to hazard a guess when there is eventually a Voce successor it might be an improvement in the adhesively attached stator plate, with many, much smaller holes for better transmission coupling between the diaphragm (transducing material) and electrode around each hole. Electrostatic forces are weak with the square of the distance.

I'm going to say again that I think people (Reviewers) should at least have BOTH a 009 and Voce to make any judgement. And should listen back and forth for 15 or 20 minutes before they write too/very much.
 
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A link here would be nice.
Here are some starting points int he proto thread to see VOCE vs 009 comparisons.
Hope nobody gets their panties in a wad for me linking these...
Hint: click the spoiler button below to expand it, then right click the links inside the spoiler and open them in new tabs so you don't lose your place in this thread.
 
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Thanks for starting this thread! FYI, we have some additional reviews coming up.

In the meantime, here's a 40/40 review from the Utlimate Headphone Guide published by The Absolute Sound and HiFi+... This was the first perfect score they've given a headphone.

MrSpeakersVOCE UGH_SUM18_LR_pg1.jpg

MrSpeakersVOCE UGH_SUM18_LR_pg2.jpg
 
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Congratulations on another great review.

I saw this review on Headfonics although that reviewer does not compare with the 009 and “super amps” I agree with his summary.

https://headfonics.com/2018/05/mrspeakers-voce-review/2/

“The VOCE delivers a surprisingly smooth, linear and warm to natural tonality within a very open and spacious soundstage. Importantly, it sounds quite different to other electrostatic headphones I currently use, with a treble performance that is more relaxed and less about the pure detail and more about the tonal quality. You may miss a little sparkle but you will also hear better body, texture and far less sharp overtones that stats with upper treble emphasis tend to permit.

That is not to say it lacks details, far from it, but it does not feel like it is the primary driver here with the VOCE presentation. After spending several weeks hooked up to mainly tube stats amps the VOCE is more musical than most without emphasizing any single area wildly above the other and as such I find the signature to be, above all, very coherent and engaging.”

I would like to add a bit of perspective to my original post here. I came to Stax after use of LCD2, HD800 and still own HD650 and Audio Technica ATH 3000ANV. Staxes I have listened to for many hours include L507,L700, SR-007 Mk1 and Mk2 and 009 driven by KGSShv, KGST, Carbon, Grounded Grid and my KGBH. I have always been a great admirer of the Stax SR-009 which I listened to a lot, but even when they were available two or three years ago at quite a low price I did not feel sufficiently happy with their sound to buy a pair. The widespread driver problems were also a factor in this reluctance.

Listening to Mr Voce struck me that they were more realistic as far as my perception of music was concerned. Of course it is all subjective opinion, the beauty of headphone listening is that you can tailor a sound to your own liking.


Mr Voce?
 
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Posted by Headinclouds:
I would like to add a bit of perspective to my original post here.

Listening to Mr Voce struck me that they were more realistic as far as my perception of music was concerned. Of course it is all subjective opinion, the beauty of headphone listening is that you can tailor a sound to your own liking.


Mr Voce[/QUOTE]

Geoff I think,:
The 009S diaphragm Stax used and tensioned doesn't focus on the treble the way the 009 does. To be honest I feel like Stax is teasing and knows exactly what they're putting out to the market. They might have even done this -released the 009s already knowing exactly what MrSpeakers Voce would sound like, I'd go so far as to say without having needed to even have or buy one..
Because the engineers who just retired at Stax were back there way in the 1990's: And up to now. They know exactly what a 88mm or 90mm driver tensioned with 2.4u film sounds like in a stator pattern the Voce has. -(and how much detail it may or may NOT pull)

And they know the market with respect, given ratio to what they could or would not need to bring to bear. we need some genuine competition in electrostatics. The Voce is a good step, if still rather expensive (imo for what it sounds like). The larger driving area is a good, neat thing to have chosen. It might have had something to do with bringing out an 009s (alebeit with imo an inferior statir design to the 009, Stax did change the 009 material to favorably daresay smash the Voce).8l

I think Dan should photoetch his stators and adhesively attach those instead of this milled solution he's using; Many-More and far smaller holes please.
Cheaper and quicker too.
There's no reason he couldn't do this.

More and smaller holes with reference to the d/s gap simply make for a more detailed headphone through Much Better Signal Coupling to the diaphragm. Although diaphragm is at least say half of it.
I know a not just a few people that wouldn't want me saying that.

If you can do .35 to .45mm holes that's what you would want in a full sized headphone driver.
The 009 with far, far more are around .65mm, but still much wider than the gap to the suspended diaphragm. You want smaller, than the gap to the diaphragm.

Ideally .4mm or so holes would be good. Quite a lot smaller than the Voce or 009. With chemical etching doing this is not expensive, at $15 or 20/part. You can do Mg-Al now.

Why doesn't Dan quit now while he's ahead and do this? Trolololol
 
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I know What i heard especially from the "super DAC," especially, and the "super amp" wasn't a remote, subtle difference. Voce was nice as a larger driver, but had less detail than even the dynamic headphones. 009S had it unquestionably beat or "Trumped" and imo the 009 did too, if it's tone can be fatiguing to say a little bit.
 
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Posted by Headinclouds:
I would like to add a bit of perspective to my original post here.

Listening to Mr Voce struck me that they were more realistic as far as my perception of music was concerned. Of course it is all subjective opinion, the beauty of headphone listening is that you can tailor a sound to your own liking.


Mr Voce

More and smaller holes with reference to the d/s gap simply make for a more detailed headphone through Much Better Signal Coupling to the diaphragm. Although diaphragm is at least say half of it.
I know a not just a few people that wouldn't want me saying that.

If you can do .35 to .45mm holes that's what you would want in a full sized headphone driver.
The 009 with far, far more are around .65mm, but still much wider than the gap to the suspended diaphragm. You want smaller, than the gap to the diaphragm.

Ideally .4mm or so holes would be good. Quite a lot smaller than the Voce or 009. With chemical etching doing this is not expensive, at $15 or 20/part. You can do Mg-Al now.

Why doesn't Dan quit now while he's ahead and do this? Trolololol
Your second note hits it on the head, I think. I always liked the clarity and detail of stats but the tonal balance always left me feeling like these were not right for me. In general I perceive an emphasis on upper upper order harmonics on stats (speakers too) that is not consistent with how I experience live music, things just get too lean to project the visceral impact and dynamics that make me connect to live music. I may well hear detail differently from those who prize a headphone like the 009, or to me detail may literally mean something different, because to my ear VOCE is every bit as detailed as any other stat I have heard, but in a very different way, which I think you are calling "realism."

People who know me have probably heard my POV that "Hifi" is a deconstructionist view of "Music," and while there is nothing wrong with HiFi it's that I prefer gear that simply let's me be there and politely steps aside. HiFi to me feels "more real than real, more there than there" and that's not how I connect to music, though it is a perfectly valid way for others so inclined.

When I listen to violin in a small venue I don't listen to the rosin on the bow, I listen to the emotion in the intonation, the space between the notes, or the interplay of melodies. I don't experience live music through detail (though the absence of detail or veiling would be a reason to perceive something isn't live, as would excess) and gear that renders it this way is not what I enjoy. As you note this is purely subjective; there is no "wrong way" to enjoy music, what matters is that it's enjoyed.

So with that as a backdrop, experience is literally what I set out to create via VOCE; an emotionally engaging rendering of music and one where I could listen all day without fatigue, tap my feet, maybe get goosebumps or cry, or want to dance. Detail doesn't define a great headphone by itself, much as more horsepower doesn't equate to a better car to drive, unless horsepower is what you care about most.

Loosely speaking there are probably a few types of folk in the market, those for whom Stax are the perfect headphones and have no need/interest in other options, Stax owners who've been open to/waiting for options, and those for whom the current offerings didn't work for whatever reason. Obviously the latter two communities will consider us.

FWIW I very much love how the Dave pairs and we've demoed with my BHSE and the Dave at a number of events, and I do plant to acquire one. I have also upgrade the BHSE EL34s to Siemens tubes. If you enjoy your BHSE, it's worth it to acquire some NOS Siemens tubes from Ram Labs.

Lastly, we experimented with AL and other materials, and numerous hole sizes and patterns. The parts we use are not machined, and the material, hole size and density was arrived at through a pretty robust optimization process, which was part of why this project took about 18 months longer than I had expected. But I do thank you for the suggestions and who knows, maybe for a different project with different goals these parameters would work well.

:)
 
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  1. I do not think we disagree with respect to "detail" at all, even in the slightest. I just find the 009S has more "dark space between" the notes, and focus on intonation and other musically paridigmatic parametrics -aside from natural presentation from the comparatively larger 88mm driver- simply just are that much better from the, particularly 009s, but even the 009 too, if a slightly lesser extent, as well.

We seem to disagree about the presence of "live" and as well, "music."
I'm not sure I agree with your views of deconstructivist "Hi-fi" by "more real than real." Most things sound like crap and in my experience only the Accuton HTCVD Diamond drivers (midrange-tweeters) do dynamic speakers real justice. Otherwise you could just consider going planar, but in speakers you can't get the quality product that is more possible in headphones.
Hi-Fi sounds distorted and cone-breakup-ish or certainly kindly put as "more real than real."
I do not feel the Voce quite does electrostatic headphones justice. I don't understand what you're truly trying to convey through the description of "Music" aside from stating you had design goals for the Voce.

The idea of this being "subjective" in case of electrostatic headphones or diamond, berylium, or grown traces for the audeze diaphragms, etc seems bizzare. They all clearly sound more or less better and/or as a result of different technology different from one another.
Some things are very difficult to measure, but a 60Db floor CSD/Impulse Response should take care of some of that..


The 009s diaphragm material and elected tension interests. Everything at Stax has to go through committee so who knows whether we'll really see anything more than a "+1 or 2 up" from them in their absurdly priced 5 or 6k headphone, unless it uses yytria stabilized zirconium laser cut or similar, or diamond. Not likely, Mg/Al alloy might probably be what we have to work with, and that's probably alright..

I'm VERY GLAD that we do fullyheartedly AGREE that smaller and more holes obviously equates to more detail/s from an electrostatic headphone -as found through stax and per your Voce assay. Sharper-Edges all around/Everywhere. To the whole image.

The "Tone" of the 009 diaphragm might to be precise have been more than a bit overzealous on Stax part, perhaps with good business sense/reasoning, and you might have a problem with it. -It is tough to argue it doesn't seem accurate to instruments, but irregardless] The thing is still great as as result of the Stator design and they pulled back (degraded) a bit with etching around the 009S holes, but gave us a more desireable diaphragm (who knows what they chose witg tension to affect 1st and 2nd order resonances, they probably, might have done right by the consumer here).

Bottom line is the 009S does do everything the Voce does excepting natural presentation of image from the larger driver.. only quite a bit better, not subtly.
I don't think you scooped Stax this time, but you could.


Now somebody has to make a headphone with .35 or MAX .4mm holes in 60°. :L3000::beerchug::floatsmile::deadhorse:

One might tap their toes using any headphone, Dan. I'm not sure how Voce does anything distingishable in the way of ("live music??") outside of large-driver-presentation.
I feel strongly the Vocealmost does electrostatic headphones (themselves) injustice, and this is after I went back again to try it today.
 
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