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Stax SR-009 vs. Audeze LCD-2s: Music Impressions

Discussion in 'Currawong' started by currawong, Jun 26, 2011.
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  1. Paul Meakin


  2. Currawong Contributor
    I've been building (and trying to get parts for) a KGSS and I'll be building a KGSSHV, as well as fixing a Blue Hawaii, so I'm planning to write more after I get one or another working.  I suspect, rather like the HD-800s, they'll benefit from better than the Stax amps, as the treble can come across as irritating sometimes.
  3. Currawong Contributor
    Thanks Paul. On a good day...
    Ok, my new LCD-2s have arrived, along with a graph showing greater peaks around the 5-8k region.  This brings them closer to the tone of the SR-009s, making comparison somewhat easier.  First impressions are that it's still very much 'stat versus dynamic.  Voices with the new model are less dark-and-seductive which explains why some people feel they are inferior to the original with vocals.  However those peaks will make them more welcome with classical, bringing out the instruments, such as violins, that were previously pushed a bit too far into the background.  I like the improvements overall, but someone used to a more v-shaped FR will not, nor anyone who dislikes something along the lines of an Audio Technica house sound, as both cans are quite mid-forward, though the 009s come across as slightly brighter.
    The LCD-2s now sound much more like they look in comparison: More wood and steel - power and strength, leaving the 009s to be the more delicate and precise model.  Also, worthy of note is that with a tweak to my set-up, specifically using a separate PSU and USB isolator for my Audiophilleo 1 eliminated some harshness that was annoying me with the 009s. 
  4. olor1n
    Looking forward to your evolving impressions of the rev.2 (particularly against the rev.1) Currawong. Many have noted changes over time, so it'll be interesting if you have similar findings.
    Most latest blog from Currawong. Thank you Sir!
    P.S. I think my next headphone must be LCD 2.[​IMG]
  6. Currawong Contributor
    I sold my rev. 1s unfortunately, so direct comparisons wont be possible. Reading my old impressions though and seeing if I still feel them with the rev. 2s will be an interesting experience. 
  7. nnotis
    It would be interesting to read your impressions of the SR-009s plugged into totally different systems Currawong.  Their apparent transparency might make for some notable differences.
    And please do continue giving us impressions with your existing, albeit evolving, set up.
  8. Currawong Contributor
    Here is a composite of the old (orange) and new (blue) frequency response graphs for my LCD-2s. I still think vocals are quite seductive despite the significant change in the frequency response. The 009s, on the other hand, from some Japanese measurements have a huge peak at 4k, making them sound both forward and bright and exacerbating any harshness in, say, trumpets and saxophones.
  9. Lunatique

    You know what's amazing about that graph? The new frequency response essentially looks almost identical to the response I created with my custom EQ curve for the LCD-2 rev.1. Great minds think alike, it seems. :wink:
  10. Pricklely Peete Contributor


    Agreed 100%.........I swore off any and all manipulation of the original signal (above 60hz, subs need room eq...cut room mode peaks only with no boost of nulls) many many years ago. EQ as used by a pro engineer is more of a tool (for creating unique voicing) rather than trying to stay true to the original sound of the instrument IMO. Of course acoustic instruments and genres where SQ is paramount and production costs are of no real concern tend to use as little manipulation as possible in order to limit the ill effects of using artificial tweaking. It seems like modern electrified music uses heavy doses EQ/DSP effects of every stripe while classical/small ensemble jazz/contemporary acoustic music shoots for purity using very HQ mics (usually old tube amped ribbon types).
    Anyway it's interesting to compare Curra's changing thoughts about the two types of headphones...the fact that the LCD-2's compete favorably within the genre of music I listen to nearly 100% of the time just further cements my need to get a set of LCD-2's in the future. I'm waiting for Audeze to perfect the LCD-2 hopefully with a MK II variant before laying down the 1K USD I have already set aside ...the Stax cans are a pipe dream for me at 5K USD...might as well be 50K USD.
    Good job on the comparo Curra.....
  11. Currawong Contributor


    I didn't get around to going back and checking what you'd EQ'ed, but I did remember the two bumps in the treble and was wondering about that.  There are quite a few people interested in the Rev 1 who don't like the newer FR so there is a good chance you could sell yours and get the new ones if you want.
    I haven't updated this thread further as I'm fairly of the conclusion that the 007t just isn't good enough for the 009s.  I suspect the primary problem is the overly simplistic power supply. Anyhow, I have most of the parts here for the KGSSHV, so between it and the other amps in pieces I have here I should be able to build something eventually to put the 009s back in the game.
  12. padam
    Converting the 007t to accept 6S4A tubes is also not a bad idea but of course makes little sense if you are building a kgsshv.
  13. Currawong Contributor
    I've spent a month thinking about this post, in which time I've chased a few issues in my system and played around with my digital set-up so I could get a handle on the Metric Halo ULN-2.
    I spent most of that time having trouble deciding what headphones to pick up when when I feel like listening. The AD2000s arrived and shocked me, the LCD-2 r2s seduced me, but, lately, it has been the SS-009s I've grabbed. What changed things was something that was bugging me, but in my stupidity I missed the obvious answer. I couldn't find that precise imaging I remembered from using the 007s. Turns out, the polarity on Stax amp balanced inputs are reversed, with pin 3 hot. Switching to RCA fixed the issue. 
    Lately Beck's Sea Change has been the album I want to listen to most, since I found a high-res version at HDTracks. I love the dark, moody music combined with high recording quality where ever nuance from the guitars and vocals comes through. It was on this album, after much back-and-forth between the headphones I nailed what was bugging me about the LCD-2s.  One of my early impressions was running randomly through my 3+ stars playlist. After a quiet classical track, a Fleet Foxes track came on, too loud. The effect was, to me, as if the band had appeared instantly in front of me and started playing at stage volume. The speed at which notes simply jumped out (the attack, or leading edge) has always been incredibly impressive with the LCD-2s, even if I had issues with the r1 tonal balance. Instruments always sounded delicious, sharp and real, without harshness.
    However, it was switching to the LCD-2s and listening to the album again that it became apparent the LCD-2s have awesome attack, the SR-009s deliver the very subtlest nuances in the notes themselves, along with instrument positioning that is so pin-point that as, say, Hiromi is playing her piano you can hear the position of her hands as they travel along the piano and the harmonics of notes as they echo across the studio or concert hall or blend with the vibrations from other notes.  This is something I'd been missing since I had used 007s.
    Loading up Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra playing Jarnefelt: Praeludium is simply unbelievable. Every note of every instrument is completely and readily apparent, even the gentle notes of the triants, from the start to finish of the sound, despite the complexity of the music. The sound of the violins echo off the walls of the hall, even the last faint ones. Not only that but the detail of the decay of each note is clear, down to the last, faint plucks. This the LCD-2 just doesn't do with such mastery as the SR-009.
    That'll do for now. At some point I'm going to ponder the bass of both headphones and impact.  LCD-2s + bass-kicking Stacker II with the right tubes = seriously pleasant listening.
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