Not sure though, but look for it.
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Stax Lambda Pro headphones position the drivers on the left and right, just like standard headphones. bdp24 was referring to the Stax Sigma phones that position the drivers perpendicular to the head, requiring a large bulky earcup. The sound was amazing but the appearance was a turnoff. Stax Sigma phones are seldom seen for sale as I don’t think many were sold back in their heyday. They had both Standard and Pro models available.
I would agree that the detail, timbre of instruments, high end, etc. are exemplary with the top Stax head phones, But you never experience realism and think you are at the recording session.
It strikes me that we should be able to duplicate in the brain the same thing as we get with speakers in our rooms.
Headphones will certainly give you the "just me" experience, and they are indispensable for listening late at night without disturbing anyone else. It's hard to say if they can image inside your head to recreate the illusion of a live event formed by speakers in front of you. It seems to me that the sensation of a live event takes place in your head in either case. I do think that the more experience someone has listening to headphones allows them to ignore the limitations of the device and enjoy the experience for what it is, simply your own personal enjoyment. Again, just my opinion.
Getting a soundstage using headphones that makes the listener forget the sound is between the ears is a challenge, but it can be done.
The most practical starting point is using Sennheiser 800 headphones. They have the biggest soundstage, are lightweight, and comfortable. Also easy to drive. Buy a used pair. If it looks like the experiment might work for you, upgrade the headphone cable (it will decrease glare and grain).
Listen to headphones lying down with the room lights dim. In this position have your eyes closed and listen to the music. It is then much easier to tell your brain that the drums are now 15 feet in front of you, instead of being inside or behind your brain. Removing conflicting visual triggers will do a lot to retrain the brain. It does take time . It is worth it.
Everything that affects a big speaker system affects headphone listening but even more so. So for a great headphone experience think cables, interconnects, footers, fuses, wall outlets, equipment racks. But think in terms of improving darkness, decreasing grain, and reducing the HF hash that moves instruments closer to the listener. Fast detailed components might not be the best path.
The highlight of many days for me is the just before sleep headphone listening session.
I hope you will give updates on your headphone journey.
Last night my headphone listening session was most satisfying.
I feel as if I am in the performance room, church, or concert hall.
Binaural recordings (the one's I have) do not offer a special listening experience when compared to other well recorded music.
Guys, I greatly appreciate your thoughts and taking time to state them.
Much will depend on whether we sell our little New Mexico house where at best I have a 10 x 13 x 8 bedroom. I really cannot afford the same equipment in both of my rooms or have enough room to get all my cabling, racks, components, etc. from one listening room to another 765 miles away.
Much depends on how long I am in New Mexico. This time we were in NM for 6 weeks and I had no sound, but there were two political party conventions and the Olympics.
I think a big problem is also that the image with headphones is unrelated to head movement. When listening we are always moving our head slightly, gauging distances and directions, but the phones move with us and mess it up. Maybe some DSP and position sensors someday will be able to do something to work around that with existing recordings.
Those that want the sound to change as they move their heads should investigate the Smyth Realizer system. This is mature technology that has been available since 2009. It is very impressive to listen to when sitting.
Another approach to headphone listening is to buy Darin Fong's software for your computer. This changes the sound (via computer) thru the headphones to emulate how multiple high end speaker systems sound. It will simulate Wilson speakers and Axe Recording Studio speakers just to name a few choices.
Both of these systems have a major effect on the headphone listening experience. Both are worth investigating.
At RMAF the headphone area is quite noisy so except for evaluating physical comfort of the headphone on the head it is rather limited in doing serious evaluations. Look for the few rooms on the upper floors that will have headphones. Evaluate early in the day before the crowds arrive.
The listener - headphone interaction is really the world's smallest listening room. The Smyth Realizer people have shown there is up to a 30 % frequency response variation due to changes in the external ear anatomy. So to maximize their system's function to produce 3D listening, your individual ear's are evaluated with microphones inserted into the ears. Much like testing the acoustic response of a room.
Electronic noise at the wall outlet, RF noise, EMF noise generated by components and all cables have a greater effect on the headphone soundstage than on room speakers.
You can achieve a wonderful headphone experience with the Sennheiser 800 ( some demo units at Music Direct for under a $1000.00). I also have be able to get an outstanding listening experience using the Enigmacoustic Dharma hybrid headphones - about $1300.00. This has a conventional driver with a self biasing electrostatic element. They too are comfortable.
But my system has had the whole works applied and evaluated - just as you would do with a cutting edge full room system. That means starting with the wall outlets and evaluating each link in the chain until the music gets to my brain processing centers. Noise, hash, grain really kill the soundstage of headphones.
I have cross feed with my system..... they still sound different than speakers. Actually, I love my headphones...they have more of a see-through - cleaner, clearer image than my expensive speakers. I find myself however listening much more often to my speakers.
On another point.....balanced headphones are clearly better.....but they must be used with a completely balanced system to get the full advantage.
I am not a headphone lover, but I found that the Grado GS1000s present a very open, airy presentation that resembles listening to real speakers in an acoustic environment. The downside it that, like a normal system, you need a very quiet area to listen, as every outside sound is very audible.
In pure audiophile terms, I've heard better phones, but none that gave the sense of space and air of the Grados. I wish I could love headphones - it would make life easier.