The Best Headphone System in the World
Mar 5, 2006 at 8:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 49

neilvg

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I just read the 'HE90, worth $8K?' thread/poll and it got me thinking... Is there a point at which the enjoyment becomes so great that it completely obscures the cost associated with attaining such an item? Assuming one can afford said $$$$$ item in the first place. For example, I don't even think $200 is worth it for an L3000. But that's just me. The enjoyment that phone brings me is not worth the $200.

Having said that, I would like to say that I am completely taken with my Orpheus combo. I think I have tried almost every phone and many many many amp combo's and I have always felt the need for something more. For me, it has never been about "what could possibly be better" in terms of phones (although there is a slight interest in that direction.) Rather it has always been about finding "my sound". What integrates best with the way I want to hear things?

I feel as though I can unequivocally say, for me, the Orpheus combo is such a beast. When I first had the opporunity to get this system, I got some PM's sent to me saying things like "Your gonna be slain by the Orpheus". At first I thought that this was a funny statement to make. I really don't see headphones, or gadgetry that way at all. But as I listen to this system more and more, and fine tune its associated equipment, I feel as though I understand this statement much more. I am slain in the sense that I feel as though, for the first time, I have found the headphone that can take me to the sonic reality I am looking for. Now, it is more a matter of coaxing out the greatest potential from this phone/system. Is the HEV90 amp perfect? No. Is there something more to the sound that can be had with further tweaking? Certainly. But I cannot imagine myself looking for any more in terms of its base signature. In other words, I sense the potential to coax the exact sound I am looking for out of it.

I know a lot of you have found your 'perfect' system(s). Some of you are lucky enough to have found several matches. So my question to you is, what headphone system gets and seems to be keeping you there? Or is your search seemingly never ending?

Neil

Edit: I have an adaptor to plug my HE60 into the HEV90. I am not sure if it is the amp, or the phone, but I can say one thing, MUCH of the magic is gone. Upon a very very cursory listen, one might be tempted to say that both phones are similar. They are not. I am sorry. Even the slightest of extended listens in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere will yield, in my opinion, a very elemental difference... and they just drift even further apart upon subsequent inspections.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 9:36 PM Post #2 of 49

jagorev

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Congratulations with finding your sound! I'm pretty content with what I have now, but I wouldn't call it perfect or flawless by any means. Nor have I ever heard a headphone/speaker system that lives up to everything I want. The search continues, and it might be never-ending until I can afford the Orpheus or maybe an Omega II.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 10:48 PM Post #3 of 49

gpalmer

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I have several I find amusing but honestly I'm just as happy listening to my Ety ER4s out of my JukeBox 3. The gear is fun and all but after a certain point it's all gravy. As far as having a particular sound, I don't, I adapt to the system instead of expecting it to be perfect.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 11:11 PM Post #4 of 49

HiWire

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Joseph Grado HP-2's + Headsave Classic v2 + Old Skool Panasonic PCDP get me there right now. I might look into a "home" source someday, but I don't really need another box in the short term. I can just sit back and enjoy the music, and never worry about upgrades. How many people can say that?
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In my opinion, having the best headphone system in the world comes from the intensely personal processes of comparative listening and hunting/assembling/tweaking components in a system together - along with the Head-Fi discussions it generates. In the end, our musical preferences are all subjective and it's all about the love, isn't it?
tongue.gif
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 11:25 PM Post #5 of 49

neilvg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
I have several I find amusing but honestly I'm just as happy listening to my Ety ER4s out of my JukeBox 3. The gear is fun and all but after a certain point it's all gravy. As far as having a particular sound, I don't, I adapt to the system instead of expecting it to be perfect.


While certainly true on one level, there are certain things about some headphones I find unacceptable to me. Of course it depends how loud you listen. For example, I find the L3K's don't like to be pushed to anything above only moderate listening levels. Whereas, my HD600's can be cranked.

I guess for me, if I'm going to spend $$$$$ money and I have very specific aesthetic tastes, I suppose I want them fulfilled. I'm not exactly expecting phones to be perfect, but I'm not very leniant either I suppose.
plainface.gif


Additionally, for me, I'm not all that into collecting phones, or sources, or tubes, or any sort of equipment. My interests solely lie in "how well can I allow myself to be transported directly into the music". I sell everything that doesn't do that for me (well, most everything- my HF-1's stay!)

Neil
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 11:41 PM Post #6 of 49

smeggy

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I think the largest portion of my dissatisfaction comes not from my equipment but rather from the poor quality of so many recordings. I find it incredulous that there is such variability in recording quality these days. Some albums are extremely well put together, others are downright abysmal and even $8000 headphones can't cure that particular ailment.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 1:39 AM Post #7 of 49
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Quote:

Originally Posted by smeggy
I think the largest portion of my dissatisfaction comes not from my equipment but rather from the poor quality of so many recordings. I find it incredulous that there is such variability in recording quality these days. Some albums are extremely well put together, others are downright abysmal and even $8000 headphones can't cure that particular ailment.


Have you ever heard an Orpheus system? It is quite amazing in its ability to make even poorly recorded stuff very enjoyable.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 1:54 AM Post #8 of 49

Kirosia

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Recently I sold my HD650 for a k701 (the latter cost me less than $20 more than what I sold the former). The price was just too tempting, and the reviews seemed very favorable. Still waiting for it though, but if even if I dislike it a little, I'd probably just keep it due to laziness.
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I want to try a different amp also, but the market value of my sr-71 is too low. I need the money to try a new slightly higher-end happy box. I'm fairly tired of the headphone game, and usually only change components out of massive boredom.

Personally, I don't think I could ever spend $$$$$ on a system, simply because a) I can't budget it and b) I don't listen to high-end phones enough to justify it. But I can see why others would. Yo.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 2:02 AM Post #9 of 49

gpalmer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by neilvg
While certainly true on one level, there are certain things about some headphones I find unacceptable to me. Of course it depends how loud you listen. For example, I find the L3K's don't like to be pushed to anything above only moderate listening levels. Whereas, my HD600's can be cranked.


I agree, there are systems I just don't enjoy. I didn't say any low dollar system!
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I think you need to reef on those L3000's for a bit. I had the same problem and let them run for a day or two being driven hard and they cleared right up and are much better, more enjoyable cans for it.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 3:31 AM Post #10 of 49

Hirsch

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gpalmer is right. It took several months of listening before I fully appreciated how good the L3000 is (I'm still a big R10 fan, though). However, a DAP straight into Ety's (I do this often) can be as fun as one of my big rigs, depending on when and where I'm listening.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 4:15 AM Post #11 of 49

neilvg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by smeggy
I think the largest portion of my dissatisfaction comes not from my equipment but rather from the poor quality of so many recordings. I find it incredulous that there is such variability in recording quality these days. Some albums are extremely well put together, others are downright abysmal and even $8000 headphones can't cure that particular ailment.


Iron Dreamer is right (of course he is, he heard it at my house! Nothing like some normally overly bright and agressive Emerson Lake & Palmer (Tarkus) to test the Orpheus). This combo has this strange ability to be both revealing and forgiving at the same time. It is odd. Partially this is due to the fact that, with the right components, the Orpheus does not have a trace of harshness, or sibilance. I emphasize 'the right components' because I've found, at this level, and it seems to be a hallmark of Sennheiser, various other factors seemingly bring the phone to a whole new level (ref: HD650 W/SDS XLR). The HE90 is a similar phone (in my opinion) in terms of what it can achieve. I was a little worried initially about this phone being 'metallic' or too trebley (seemingly where the Stax Omega II overcompensates; I think it is very dark). I'd read that review where Jan talks about 'wanting to immediately reach for an analoger' and that 'everyone who heard the setup felt the same way and that crossfeed helped both the harshness and the soundstage (in regards to the Orpheus Combo).

Fortunately, I do not sense these attributes at all. If it was an R10, yes I might say this. But then again, I think the R10 needs an amp from its exclusive harem or else it gets finicky.
tongue.gif


=====

I've given the L3K quite a chance. I burnt it in for well over 350 hours. I played it extremely loudly (where I felt I might even be damaging the phone). To no avail. While this phone has unabashedly made me a believer in headphone break in (it's practically a case study), in the end, I felt as though I was forcing this phone to be something it plainly is not (hence my, L3K and EQ thread). However, during the SF Bay Area meet, around 1:00am or so, I put these phones on, running out of a Lavry Black if I recall, and it sounded nice! I had it nice and low in volume, I laid down on my back on this stage area, and stared out through the glass ceiling overhead into the stars, and it was an amazing listening experience (and not just because of the amazing glassy star-lit overture above me!)

But I admit, I verge on the line of unhealthy volume levels. But it's funny. See to me, I play live all the time, and I need it to be at a 'realistic level'. Lucky, I find that some frequencies, when pushed too loud are more damaging than others. So maybe my interest in certain phones come from the fact that they are able to soften the blow of certain freq's at higher levels... To me I don't notice any frequency suckouts or rolloffs with the HE90, but then again, when I listen to this phone, I'm not paying attention to the headphone on my head! And to me, that makes it worth $8K. (luckily though, I didn't have to spend nearly that much, lol!)

Wow, I use a lot of ... and ( )... meh

Neil
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 4:31 AM Post #12 of 49

dannyandelyse

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Is the Orpheus system the best?
I would say the system is the best I have heard at allowing me to listen to the reproduction of the musical event in a state of ease. Is it the Orpheus system the best? I would say the system is the best at allowing me to synch and thus intertwine with the music it is reproducing.
Best highs...no
Best lows.....no
Best resolution....no
Best imaging.......no
Best dynamics.....no
Best ease and enjoyment and immersion ....you bet! All volumes, all genries of music, yes, all the time and most important, all the way.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 4:37 AM Post #13 of 49

smeggy

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Good to hear Neil. I'm glad the Orpheus is getting you where you like to be. Sadly for me I doubt I'll ever get the opportunity to hear them which is probably a good thing. One less really expensive toy to obsess about and can't justify anyway unless it was ridiculously cheap. I live in a less rarified atmosphere where other expenses and wife keep my head-fi asperations in check. I don't mind really, my litle Stax setup, while not the last word in headphones, are making me very happy.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 5:01 AM Post #15 of 49

spaceconvoy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by neilvg
Is there a point at which the enjoyment becomes so great that it completely obscures the cost associated with attaining such an item? Assuming one can afford said $$$$$ item in the first place.


On the other end of the spectrum, there's a point where the cost of a system is so low that it completely obscures all the negatives. When I had the A900LTD, all of its little faults were magnified by the price (yeah, it's no Orpheus, but for me it was expensive). I'm very happy right now with my koss ksc75 and iriver imp50 - how could you complain for $40 total
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Kidding aside, they synergize together rather well, and I almost feel like I could leave head-fi with only this set-up (but not until I try the K701).
 

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