Comparing World-Class Headphones Conclusions
Well, obviously, the SR-009 is off-the-chart good. If you've got a hearty wallet, and the inclination, go for it, you'll not be disappointed. Well, except you may not be able to listen to any thing else, ever again.
I was a little surprised the LCD-2 didn't fair better against the competition. It just seemed a bit bloomy and lacking in realism, what with the speed of some of the other headphones on the table. Still, it's luxuriant, liquid warmth made me very, very happy.
I love/hate the Sennheiser HD 800. They do so much right with their extraordinary coherence and imaging. If I were a recording professional, they'd be at the top of my list for their unerring quickness and clarity. But I'm afraid their somewhat excessive treble keeps them off my "music for pleasure" list. Let me admit, however, that when I purchased all the gear for my measurement and evaluation needs, they were number one with a bullet in terms of a reference headphone that would let me hear every hair and wart on a recording. Probably the world's most accurate headphone.
The HiFiMAN HE-6 was more of a disappointment than I expected. I made sure I had a very good headphone amp for this test as I had heard it was very important for them to sound their best. Well, headphone amps for dynamic cans don't come much better than the Apex Pinnacle and they still didn't shine. I'm guessing they're just a bit underdamped.
The surprisingly good headphone of the bunch was the HE-500. They held their own surprisingly well in world-class company. No,they didn't have the liquid juicy goodness of the LCD-2, but they did sound somewhat more "right down the middle." I'd say these had the best price performance ratio on the table, and might get a stronger recommendation from me than the LCD-2, as they were a bit more tight and neutral, and possibly more likely to satisfy a wider range of tastes. I'd say these are not only great listening cans, but also great headphones for professionals who want something more pleasantly listenable than the HD 800.
Some Big Thanks
First of all, I'd like to thank the Stax Mafia, in locations undisclosed, for their gentle request to do this type of listening test, and for the loan of the Blue Hawaii and Stax cans. I know there's more to come, and I remain your humble servant in this capacity. (What choice do I really have?)
A big thanks goes out to HeadRoom for the loan of the Wadia 861SE , and to Todd the Vinyl Junkie for the loan of the spectacular Apex Pinnacle ---- probably the finest headphone amp for dynamic and planar magnetic headphones I've had the pleasure of listening to in the privacy of my home --- it was pure pleasure,and for the HiFiMAN HE-6.
Also a shout out to Klutz Designs for the cool CanCans headphone stand worthy of these world-class cans.
Lastly, an enormous thanks to my enthusiastic readers, for without you the world would be filled with Beats by Dre, and I'd be doing unboxing videos for peanuts on YouTube. I love this hobby, and I'm privileged to serve you.
Here's the video!