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RE: Headphones that image like speakers

I've got MG 3.6's (and Quad ESL-57's)

I've also got: Sennheiser HD-800, Audeze LCD-2, HiFiMan HE-6, Stax SR-007, Stax Lambda Pro Signature, a Beta 22 amp, Audio-GD NFB-10ES,Koss ESP-950, Stax tube & solid state amplifiers, along with a raft of other less interesting headphone gear.

And I have to say that NO headphones image like my MG 3.6's. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

It's a totally different way of experiencing sound, and the sound sources move with your head, so really there's no way to provide the same spatial experience as speakers.

As someone who is well familiar with the way MG 3.6's image, I would say that with headphones the whole term "image" is not appropriate. With headphones, it's not like being in front of a stage listening to the music, whether it be a symphony orchestra or a blues band. It's like being INSIDE THE MIX. Which is different from sitting in front of the performance, and also different from sitting on stage in the middle of the performance.

In some cases, such as binaural recordings, and some other recordings miked with Blumlein pairs or where a small ensemble is miked with just a few mics, you DO get an uncanny "hear through" experience. This experience is not common, as recordings miked / mixed this way are not common, unless you mostly listen to string quartets or acoustic jazz on audiophile labels. I find this "hear through" experience can be got from the HD800's, the LCD-2's, Koss ESP-950 and the Stax. Never heard it on the HE-6's, though it may be that I just never listened to the right recording on them.

As one planar owner to another, I would suggest you get a pair of Lambda Pro's (used) or Nova Lambda Pro's, and an SRM-T1 amp. I think they might satisfy as well as any headphone could, keeping in mind that NO headphone is going to give you the big stage that your Magnepans offered. Nonetheless, headphone listening offers it own qualities, and can be very enjoyable in it's own right.

Another headphone very worth considering is the Koss ESP-950, which has more bass "slam" than the Stax while retaining electrostatic detail. It has a somewhat forward midrange compared to the Stax, and so isn't quite as 'neutral' but it is a very good headphone, and comes with it's own rather decent amp / bias supply for around $500 used. With an adapter you can also use the Koss ESP-950 on Stax amps that offer the "Pro" (580 volt) bias. Using the Koss ESP-950 on a Stax amp gives you a little better more refinement and a little more bass, but unless I already had a Stax amp, I would just use the amp that comes with the Koss. I wouldn't run out and spend $500 on a Stax amp just to power the Koss, the small improvement made by a Stax amp over the stock Koss unit is just not worth another $500 on top of the $500 for the purchase of the Koss.

You should also try to listen to the Sennheiser HD-800 and the Audeze LCD-2's, maybe they will float your boat. But I would guess that, coming from Magneplanars, you might be best pleased by Stax or Koss.

You can buy new Stax, though the used ones are a very good value, and you can get more finesse for your money with good used gear. Check out Head-fi.org


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  • RE: Headphones that image like speakers - triamp 02:10:48 12/07/11 (0)

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