Stax Omega 3 first impressions & pics (MODEM WARNING)
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eric343

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I want to first give my heartfelt thanks to Stax Japan for allowing me to be the first in the US to audition these incredible headphones. It is an absolute honor!

One of my biggest complaints with the old OmegaIIs was the treble. The OmegaII simply didn't have the resolution of the HE90s! However, there is very little to criticize regarding the treble region of the Omega III's. The reproduction of treble instrumentation has always been a strength of electrostatics, and the Omega III's are no exception. Airy and extended, they excel at reproducing cymbals and high-hats, as well as the overtones of instruments (violins, trumpets, saxes, etc). They also do an exceptional job of portraying the air around instruments and of the surrounding venue, be it studio or hall, etc. From an amplitude standpoint, they are neither bright nor dark. The treble present is in perfect proportion to the midrange and bass (assuming the recording is up to snuff; bright recordings can sound bright and shut-in recordings can sound dark, as it should be). Changes in source and interconnect, however, can markedly affect the amount of treble; the Silver Audio Hyacinth interconnects were too bright and splashy in the treble, as compared to the Kimber PBJ or KS-1030. "Katy Lied" by Steely Dan is a good example of the treble accuracy of the Omega III's; on the track, 'Chain Lightning', Jeff Porcoro's cymbal work is very convincing, allowing me to clearly hear the attack and decay, despite the drums being farther back in the soundstage. Likewise with King Crimson's "Red"; on every song, I could clearly delineate the "snick" sound of Bill Bruford's stick hitting the cymbal from the actual metallic sound of the cymbal itself. And on jazz material, where the drums are much closer in the mix, the cymbal work sounds like it's occurring right in front of my face. Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" is superbly rendered.

Don't misunderstand, however; the treble performance of the Omega III's is not some sort of panacea that makes every recording sound like magic. It's not. Poorly recorded material sounds poor. I've only listened to it once, but Neil Peart's cymbal work on "Vapor Trails" sure doesn't sound very good. Splashy, grainy and stretched. Almost like he was playing on tin foil. It's bad enough that I notice it on the song 'One Little Victory' over my car radio. On a good pair of headphones, it's exponentially more pronounced. Why are so many new recordings so badly recorded? But, because of the naturality and smoothness of the Omega III's treble (not to be confused with shut-in or rolled off), these kinds of aberrations are noticeable, certainly, but one is able to listen through them. The musical message, the soul of the performance is not compromised. That's a good thing. In comparison, what about the other two 'phones? The SR-404, not surprisingly, shares much of this magic. The treble is a little more prominent, however, especially in the mid-treble, while perhaps not being quite as extended in the extreme treble. Still excellent, however. The Sennheiser HD 600's fare surprisingly well in the face in the face of this competition, but ultimately lose out to both electrostatics. The treble is more prominent than either Stax model, and there is a marked lack of "air" in the extreme treble. This is only evident in direct comparison, however. There also exists a tendency for cymbals to be reproduced with an accompanying "white noise" type of coloration, almost like a mild "pfffff" sound. It's not severe, but again is noticeable in direct comparison. This, I feel, gives the treble its slightly splashy coloration.

The best of this headphone system is the midrange. Silky, smooth and extremely resolving. This system will show you any imperfection in your source or in the recording. It's very unforgiving! The Omega III is simply superb; from the lower-midrange all the way up to the upper-midrange, there is no elevation of any frequency over any other, and the overall transparency is at least as good as the SR-404. It's as if the Omega III's open a window to the heart of midrange instruments; keeping with the same metaphor, listening via the HD 600's is more akin to listening through a screen-door. Because of this, instruments are clearly delineated, even when they are playing right on top of each other. Donald Fagen's voice has the body missing from the SR-404; likewise, there's no extra chestiness. Suzanne Vega sounds so real and intimate on her "99.9 Fahrenheit" album that I feel almost like I'm intruding. Neal Morse sounds superb on Spock's Beard's "Day for Night", with the right amount of body and three dimensional palpability. Ian Anderson's voice on "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die" sounds fully fleshed out and Debra Holland's voice on "Animal Logic II" just shimmers, as does Bjork's voice on her solo recordings. They simply sound real. Voices are portrayed with more realism over the Omega III's than over a lot of the expensive speakers I've had the honor of auditioning. And this quality doesn't just manifest itself on voices. Acoustic and electric guitar, when recorded well, is a revelation. Steve Howe's solo 'Mood for a Day" is portrayed better than I've personally ever heard it. Likewise, Robert Fripps's soloing on the track 'Ladies of the Road' from "Islands" is as crunchy, mean and full of life as I'm sure it was meant to be, while still sounding remarkably crisp and clean. Paul Desmond's alto sax on "Time Out" sounds almost three dimensional in its realism as do the trumpet and saxophones of Miles and the boys on "Kind of Blue". The accompanying piano on these recordings is as realistically portrayed (if obviously smaller than in real life) as I've heard. Sorry to sound so effusive, but it's really quite beguiling. I think that the midrange is the best part of the Omega III's performance.

The textures portrayed by this
headphone can range from highly texturally specific to texturally non-specific, depending on
what was in the recording.

Soundstage wise, they're fantastic. I confess -- I am an imaging freak. I listen with my eyes closed, and part of the joy of music for me is in allowing my brain to imagine the performance. The Omega III provides the best soundstage and imaging of any headphone I’ve heard. Left-to-right imaging is phenomenal, but the soundstage is wider than it is high. It’s like your sitting in a widescreen movie theater. These phones eliminate the 3 separate blobs effect common with other headphones; it’s all one large, wide continuous image. Electronic sounds that zip from one side of the soundstage to the other do so with an eerie reality. Although this is a closed phone, the soundstage extends well beyond your head, and is larger left-to-right than any I’ve heard.

No headphones I’ve experienced, the Omega III included, convey the same sense of image depth that you get with good loudspeakers in a big room. The Omega IIIs have a superior sense of depth compared to the other headphones I’ve tried. Drums sound like they are actually behind the singer. Sound effects zoom in from the distance and smack you on the nose. The Omega IIIs are closer to the perspective of the HD600, yet the soundstage is much bigger and more substantial than that of the Sennheisers.




Needless to say, this is indeed an April Fools post, albeit 3 hours early (as I didn't want to stay up that late). The "review" has been copied from various headphone reviews posted here on Head-Fi; can you guess which ones?
 
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lan

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i just got out of the shower and checked the time/date. can't fool me


I'm planning some f00Ls for the rest of the day.
 
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TeRrAPh0eNiX

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Don't forget to upgrade your sig to reflect your new team status.
 
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cmascatello

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LOL. This is going to be a fun but ball-breaking 24-hours at Head-Fi. Bring it on!
 
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nierika

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What about the BASS!?!?!?
 
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eric343

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I'll add "my" impressions re: the bass later today.
 
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Scottsmrnyc

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What about the price?  Will there be a new headphone amp for the Omega 3s as well?  Scottsmrnyc
 
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Nebby

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Quote:
Needless to say, this is indeed an April Fools post, albeit 3 hours early (as I didn't want to stay up that late). The "review" has been copied from various headphone reviews posted here on Head-Fi; can you guess which ones?
 
Did you check the date? It's an april fools post from six years ago.
Quote:
What about the price?  Will there be a new headphone amp for the Omega 3s as well?  Scottsmrnyc


 
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gilency

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Hopefully they will price in in 2004 dollars.....  not!
 
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