High-end Speakers V Headphone - you kidding me....

Mar 27, 2020
33
6
10
New York
#41
Sorry for my tone - but I had hoped I had summarised what I think headphones are good for.

It's not about the recording alone creating a soundstage. with headphone one ear hears one thing - the other one hears another thing. When you have speakers both ears hear what the other one hears, but at different times - hence the soundstage.

I've had good headphones over the years, and have heard some very expensive ones of late at shows, but I just think that they just don't grab me and give me satisfaction. They, like much of high end audio, have become utterly overblown in price.
Yes we can all agree high end audio is over blown in price, did you happen to get a chance to listen to the Abyss TC 1266? Just curious.
 

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,389
301
155
NYC , USA
#42
I have been a headphone user all of my life and I have yet to own or hear a pair that comes close to good speakers. I even used a sub to make me feel the low end more. stats are fast and hyper detailed but lack note decay for keeping me there. there decay is just too fast
Planner headphones are flabby bass but real good note decay and shimmer.
To me the Hifi man he6 was best and as he made new models to me each lack something. The issue with tjr he 6 was power and his newer models fixed this at the cost of sound.
Senn hd800 best they made asside of there Stats
While senn stats are colored it’s ina good way. I think the older star 009 were extremely accurate though. the few headphones I felt are best are very impracticle like the jetline float. It and the newer Version made have the ambience others don’t.
Abyss I just don’t like they seem blah to me. But many love them so they must be good but not for me.
 
Likes: Uk Paul
Mar 27, 2020
33
6
10
New York
#44
Fair enough speakers are definitely the best way to listen to music, but as mentioned my room is horrible and I do not have the funds or will power to build a room just for speakers so I went the "all out" headphone route as it is:

1. More affordable
2. No room issues or room stress
3. Room correction like ARC from Anthem can only do so much (I do use ARC)
 

Loheswaran

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2014
324
47
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#45
Fair enough speakers are definitely the best way to listen to music, but as mentioned my room is horrible and I do not have the funds or will power to build a room just for speakers so I went the "all out" headphone route as it is:

1. More affordable
2. No room issues or room stress
3. Room correction like ARC from Anthem can only do so much (I do use ARC)
That's a pretty good reason to get them - that said have you considered a 'near field' set up? I have a dedicated room albeit a bit 'bijou' so to speak and its flipping superb
 
#46
I have owned my Revel F208 speakers as my first intro to "nicer things" in the speaker world, but the problem is for me the room being not so ideal being the biggest bottleneck for me.

So for me, I spent all my funds into my headphone system, and my headphone system costed more than my speakers.

My streamer/M Scaler/DAC/AMP/Abyss Headphones ended up costing around: $40K

Sometimes I wonder if it was a better choice to just jump to the $50K set up from Sennheiser, the HE1.

But with that said I really enjoy my gear knowing that the room is not affecting my sound, as we all know the room is very important.

Also in the speaker world obtaining the best is an absolute money pit, where as for headphones obtaining the best, is just to not buy that BMW and instead buy the headphone gear and eating 99 cent cup noodles every day.

So for me, I took the headphone route, and love it.

I do enjoy feeling the bass rumbling to my chest with speakers though, can not deny that!
I dunno, IMO the TC can surpass the HE-1 for speed and soundstage. The HE-1 at Can-Jam 2017 was the reason I left Stax and headed over to Planars, as ironic as it sounds. The HE-1 was a target that I wanted to head towards, and the LCD4 had many of it's traits. The TC was the destination for me, happened late last year. I still have my LCD4s, and probably won't sell them. The TC is live music, the LCD4 cosy jazz club style live music. The Stax 009 was a paper impression of live music.

At Can-Jam in 2019, and after I had owned the Abyss for a while, I spent some time on the Woo table with the TC and WA33 and 009s and the WES MK2. I was shocked how bad the 009s sounded, confused, slow, flat and poor depth. The TC was miles better. Both were fed by an Astell & Kern portable DAC, tiny unit. The TC sounds even more incredible with a full size high end DAC.
 
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Likes: Abyss Man
Mar 27, 2020
33
6
10
New York
#47
I do truly love my TC, that is for sure, as for near field speaker set up, I never wanted to do that as my living room would look extremely strange.

With that said, if I had a perfect room, I would dump all my funds into speakers and not headphones. We do our best with what's given to us, haha.
 
Likes: Abyss Man

Loheswaran

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2014
324
47
58
#48
I do truly love my TC, that is for sure, as for near field speaker set up, I never wanted to do that as my living room would look extremely strange.

With that said, if I had a perfect room, I would dump all my funds into speakers and not headphones. We do our best with what's given to us, haha.
it’s funny the near field because you need to see michael fremers room - he uses big Wilson’s that are pretty much nearfield
 

guitardave

Well-Known Member
Feb 29, 2012
2
1
78
#49
Anyone heard the RAAL Requisite SR1A open ribbon driver headphones?
I have a pair of the Raal’s. While I have owned stax, various audeze’s, and currently own Utopia’s,stelias, and empyreans, the raal’s are just at another level. I was using them through various speaker amps and they sounded great, but using them with the purpose designed schiit jot r which offers baffle compensation is another step up. Extremely open and revealing without being sterile is a great combination. I use my other phones through my tt2/mscaler combo, and the Raal’s by adding the jot r, but it sounds like less components in the chain, not more.
 
Likes: thomask
Jul 27, 2019
2
7
5
ZRH
#51
Can the advances in headphone design we have seen in the last few years, can they really give us a sound that can compete with the best speaker systems?

I make no bones about it, I have been a headphone fan for many years, and use both every day. I enjoyed both equally. And I would be hard pressed to have to choose which I had to stuff in a boat to take to my desert island. In my opinion, the top headphones have got really close to the best speaker systems in terms of both emotional connection and enjoyment, and technical performance.

I went through the Stax electrostatics from the early Lambda mcdels, Lambda Signature, 007 MK1, 007 MK2, 009, 009s. Plus many electrostatic amplifiers both bought and made as DIY.

View attachment 63230
Electrostatics have a marvellous sense if timing and delicacy, micro detail is all right there, nothing seems to be lost. The challenge with most electrostatics for me, is the bass. It is there, it has extension down to below 20hz, but it DOES NOT have the drive to support it. It just doesn't sound like real bass, more a flat and weaker impression it is there.

Then after various visits to Can-Jam and hifi meets, I moved over to Planars with the LCD and conventional headphone amplifers. The thing that got me to do that was quite odd I guess, it was on hearing the Sennheiser HE1 headphone 50K system. That is an eletrostatic headphone and tube amplifier, but it has all the transparency you would expect from a top electrostatic, but really realistic bass and bass drive. Having heard that sound, I then used it as my 'target' and found the planars got the closest to it.

View attachment 63231

Now it has all gone a bit crazy. I am using the Aries Cerat Genus SET integrated, to drive the Audeze LCD4 directly off the OPT. The Genus has a 1/4 socket on the back for this purpose.
I can tell you, 100% that the sound out of this combination is beyond the level of the Sennheiser HE-1 system. It has the detail and speed, but more realistic mids and really solid placement of the soundstage. I can listen for hours with this combination.

View attachment 63232

Enter the Abyss TC planar magnetic headphone. This has the bass and creamy mids of the LCD4, but crucially the faster treble of the very best electrostatics, and the biggest soundstage I have ever heard on any headphone, even beyond the soundstage king - the Sennheiser HD800/820.

Here it is being powered off the back of the Moon 600i 125W integrated, which equates to about 12W at 33ohms for the Abyss impedance load. It sound marvellous.
The Abyss out of the Genus is up another notch, with typical tube goodness and accuracy of tone, yet the same bass control of the Moon 600i amplifier.

Piching this against my Zingali horns, it is close, different and yet similar. There is a lot more in common than not, which tells me the Abyss has nailed it, broke out of the 'in your head' type of presentation, and matched sonically to a decent speaker. There are some things the Abyss actually does better in my opinion. There is more detail and a closer connection to the music, if you are ok about headphone use in general. It is a nice way to enjoy music, one that is in recent years advanced so much.

Thoughts welcome....

The Abyss TC is without doubt the ultimate headphone.
Very nice setups. Isn’t it a Norne Audio Draug Silver on the LCD4?
 
#52
Anyone heard the RAAL Requisite SR1A open ribbon driver headphones?
I own them, paired with the RAAL HSA-1a amp (better than the Jot R, which I also own, but not 4x better). They are an impressive first headphone. I’ve been a bit of a ribbon slut all my audiophile life, so these speak to me on many levels. They are bass-shy, bur proper alignment and a little bit of EQ goes a long way. They have no peer in the earfield monitor group. They come as close to throwing a wide stage forward as any headphone I have heard. And no other headphone can match their speed and transient capabilities. I also have the adjustable MySphere 3.2 as well, and it is quite good, but it’s not equal to the SR1a.

I am also an electrostat nut. I own the Stax 009S/009/007 1&2/Voce, and they are run on a custom-built T2, Mjolnir Carbon CC, or LTA Z10e. I also have a HeadAmp GS-X Mk2 for powering the MySphere and a Hifiman Susvara (which, sorry Abyss lovers, I find so much better than the Abyss; YMMV), and Audeze LCD-4, which I almost never listen to anymore. It just can’t compete with the TOTLs, though I appreciate Audeze introducing me to excellent planar with the LCD-2. The Z10e does a better job of driving the Susvara than the HeadAmp; it does both electrostat and dynamic quite well. For someone who needs one amp to do both, it’s worth the listen. I have a Trafomatic Primavera en route that will be dedicated to the Susvara. I expect that combo to rival the T2/009S and the RAAL rig.

I’ve added a pic of the headphone rack, in its current messy state, below. I had a Warwick APERIO on order, but I canceled that until I decide how I want to do network-based headphone listening in another room. The headphone amps are all fed by an MSB Select II, and the choice of DAC in the other room is a significant factor (e.g., Bartok, APERIO, etc.).

I love them all—and I enjoy binaural recordings, too—but they’re not as good as a good speaker system in a reasonably corrected room.
 

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#53
Hello,

I'm very fond of planars, specifically Audeze.
About Stax, I've owned some but I don't like the plastic coloration of the drivers. For my taste none shows " the natural state of things" as Audezes.
I've owned in my collection the full range of Audezes but I'm very happy with LCD4 now a days.
I have Sennheiser 800 and 800S, ATH W 3000 SE, Fostex 900 and many more but usually listen LCD4.

About the amps, I've owned a lot of them. Zana Deux, Woo Audio, Burson, Auralic, Cavalli, Leben, Rogue Audio, Icon Audio...and many more.
Currently I have Leben, Auralic Taurus, Burson Virtuoso 2 and micro ZOTL. For time now I only listen the David Berning micro ZOTL 2 design in my late night sessions.
This is a very special amplifier, without output transformers, and with Sennheiser 800 sounds a lot better than their top Orpheus (Oh, my God :eek:;)). It's a bargain for the price!

https://www.lineartubeaudio.com/headphone-amps

Some photos

View attachment 63274 View attachment 63275 View attachment 63276 View attachment 63277 View attachment 63278 View attachment 63279
Nice collection. Thanks for the photos and post.
I agree on the Stax, and Planars are the way to go IMO. Good as the LCD4 is, the Abyss TC is better in all areas to my ears. It has the elusive electrostatic speed and detail AND the creamy mids and bass drive of the LCD4. End game IMO.
 
Likes: Rocoa

Rocoa

Active Member
Oct 17, 2018
73
38
25
Spain
#54
Ye, I agree. However, I'm not interested in investing in the Abyss since I listen with speakers almost always. Anyway, who knows.....:)
 
Mar 27, 2020
33
6
10
New York
#55
I love speakers, but my room is not so ideal so I throw all my money into headphones.
 
Likes: Abyss Man

Uk Paul

Member Sponsor
Sep 27, 2012
423
57
110
UK
#56
I have a pair of the Raal’s. While I have owned stax, various audeze’s, and currently own Utopia’s,stelias, and empyreans, the raal’s are just at another level. I was using them through various speaker amps and they sounded great, but using them with the purpose designed schiit jot r which offers baffle compensation is another step up. Extremely open and revealing without being sterile is a great combination. I use my other phones through my tt2/mscaler combo, and the Raal’s by adding the jot r, but it sounds like less components in the chain, not more.
How do your Utopia compare to the Empyrean if you listen to classical?
 

jfx

New Member
May 1, 2020
5
2
3
33
#57
Headphones are nice since it removes the room. And more pragmatically, can be used late at night w/o waking up the kids or neighbors.
It can never replace the speaker experience though.

Hifiman Susvara (which, sorry Abyss lovers, I find so much better than the Abyss; YMMV),
I also think the Susvara is better than Abyss but I can see why someone would like Abyss.
 
Likes: F208Frank
#58
I have to differ. Having had the Susvara here for 4 months, I prefer the speed and soundstage of the Abyss. It may depend on the music type you listen too? Classical is nice on the Susvara, as it is a bit more polite. For live music or a 'being there' presentation the Abyss does it better IMO.

The fit on the Abyss is super fiddly, it took me 2 weeks to nail it. But it is worth it. So don't rate the HP at a quick demo or show situation, you need to get the fit right for your head shape. Then the magic happens.... avatar.jpg
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
5,365
967
238
Greater Boston
#59
I have to differ. Having had the Susvara here for 4 months, I prefer the speed and soundstage of the Abyss. It may depend on the music type you listen too? Classical is nice on the Susvara, as it is a bit more polite. For live music or a 'being there' presentation the Abyss does it better IMO.

The fit on the Abyss is super fiddly, it took me 2 weeks to nail it. But it is worth it. So don't rate the HP at a quick demo or show situation, you need to get the fit right for your head shape. Then the magic happens....
Thanks for the info. Yes, speed is what I would prefer too, and an incisive sound over a polite one.

Also on classical. Especially on classical. Always on classical.
 

ketcham

Industry Expert
Feb 29, 2016
68
39
48
#60
Julian,

Thank you for this review. While I find myself too active to use a headphone setup and sold my Stax009/BlueHawaii setup with under 20 hours on it, I am intrigued by this review and the YouTube video posted shortly after. I have referred to others this thread. The design overall is well thought out, especially not pressing on the ears. This for me is huge.

Thank you.
 

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