Yes, Rajiv, it is counterintuitive that Mahler might be best enjoyed with headphones, but for me that is usually the case. By the way, Dausgaard is a great Mahlerian, something I didn't really appreciate before his appointment as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony. Gerard Schwarz was also a very fine conductor of Mahler. Seattle's music director for most of the last decade, Ludovic Morlot, always seemed to run out of steam with Mahler, though his way with a lot of other music was outstanding and he really improved the orchestra.So yes, it is ironic that you and I would argue for the advantages of listening to Mahler on headphones, as Mahler is about as large scale and dynamic as they come, but the advantages are there. In fact, just last night I was listening to Dausgaard/Seattle's Mahler 10th — in my opinion the best recording of this piece in existence — and the final tympani strokes at the end of the 4th movement (Scherzo II), perforned at ppp, were rendered so perfectly, and delivered so audibly — by the combination of the Extreme, SW upsampling, and the DAVE going direct to my Empyreans — that it gave me no less of a thrill as the best speaker systems would.
The point here is that the Extreme benefits headphone systems just as much as speaker-based systems, and I am living proof of that.
Mike L. has offered his opinion that, the last time he seriously compared the two, he preferred his speaker system over a high-end headphone system (with the caveat that he has not listened to the latest and greatest headphone systems). Mike's opinion may not be all that surprising if you know something about his system. I haven't had the pleasure of listening to Mike's system in the last couple years, but it is the finest system I have heard anywhere, anytime. Mike has essentially neutralized the foremost advantage that headphones have over speakers -- the elimination of the listening room as a compromising factor. Mike's "barn" is in reality a finely tuned concert hall that goes way beyond anything I've encountered in home audio. Then you add Mike's decades of experience in building a synergistic system and his plethora of some of the best components in the universe and you've got something that most of us mere mortals will never duplicate.
(By the way, Mike, I appreciate your invitation to come and listen in the "barn." Let's do that when this pandemic is beaten back.)
I'm willing to bet, however, that for the vast majority of folks like me who have a listening room that doubles as a living room, with all sorts of compromises built in to the room itself, a high end headphone setup will reveal more nuance and produce more accurate sound than a speaker-based system.
Most of my listening is with speakers. I don't mind being tethered to headphones, but I prefer the physical freedom of not being tethered. My feeling is that most well-sorted speaker systems reproduce well-recorded small ensembles, solo piano, and voice in pretty convincing fashion. Chamber orchestras and big band jazz is usually easier to reproduce than large scale orchestral music, especially music that has really wide dynamic fluctuations. This really large scale music is where I, personally, find headphones to be a useful tool for understanding and enjoying the music. And the bang for the buck with headphones, if we are just focusing on sonic quality, is outstanding.