High efficiency speakers with set amps are the best period. I have not ever enjoyed music as much as I now do. I also am perhaps older at 47. I recently converted to single driver high efficiency 95db and a set tube amp. I just dont think it gets any better than this. So I second your opinion.
I also have a push pull EL34 amp for high energy music as I do listen to new music in the rock venue. This also sounds incredible at the louder listening levels. It has perhaps a intangeable "Punch" that the set amp does not convey with this type of music.
Why not go all the way and get a good headset?
Going all the way = headset? How's that?
Warrenh...The low distortion and complete lack of compression possible with very low power amplification that is acceptable for a headset reminds me of the kind of sonic character that I hear with your high efficiency single driver speakers. An added bonus is frequency response that would put a subwoofer to shame, and complete lack of room resonances. And, the imaging possible when each ear is individually isolated is eyeopening. For quiet time listening in your easy chair headphones can't be beat.
Try it. You'll like it.
Regarding headphones, the binaural listening experience is definitely different than listening to speakers. This is because the left ear hears only the left channel information and the right channel hears only right channel information. There is no inter-ear crosstalk and no wall reflections or room acoustic problems to muck things up.
I can hear lyrics clearer on my headphones, including the obscure backing vocals that get swamped in the mix when using speakers. I use the Stax 4040 System II Signature, which uses full-range electrostatic speakers driven by a dedicated, direct-drive tube amplifier. Using the Monarchy Audio M24 tube DAC to feed the Stax 006t tube amp makes for a very detailed, musically pleasing and totally non-fatiguing type of sound.
On the plus side for speakers, the soundstaging perspective is more natural (because in real life we do hear the inter-ear crosstalk), dynamics and low bass extension are usually better, and you don't have to wear anything on your head. Plus, your friends can listen at the same time.
If I've left anything out, I'm sure others will chime in, but that's my take on it. I still mostly listen to speakers, but have some great headphone sessions as well. You can't beat the headphones for personal listening when you don't want to disturb others -- or if you're trying to unravel some song lyrics that you can't quite decipher on your speakers.
I just turned 47 as well, so I can relate. I canceled my Playboy subscription when I hit 40 because my ability to read was getting so bad I had to hold the damn magazine at arms length so I could read the girl's hobbies. Might as well have been staring at them from a hill across the valley.
Warren, I can attest for the Headphones, try a otl headphone set out or a good pair of Grado. It truly is a experience. I however found the phones gave me a truly great sonic experience the speakers gave me something intangibly more. Perhaps the room acoustics or just the way the tubes interfaced with the transducers, it is hard to quantify but I sold my headphones and have not looked back.
With my amps I have tried a high end speaker switcher, a self made all copper switch (essentially dead mens switches) but I have just gone back to all copper speaker banana plugs and just exchange them from the backs of the amps. Its just become so routine now that I dont really think about it.
Gunbei, I can relate !
Can you tell daytime from night ? With a few drinks ?
As long as you can hear the gals say "yes we are gorgeous" the rest should fall into place.
Remember, always listen lowly and don't let your loins ache hehehe !!
BTW, I like listening to my rig at low levels very much esp. nightime.
I was just getting ready to start a thread on this subjuct. Is there a secret to getting good sound at lower levels ? I do listen sometimes at moderately high volumes, but when I am working and need to concentrate I like having music in the background. Although I love head phones, they don't work for background. As long as I have the headphones "on" my head the music is "in" my head and I have difficulty concentrating. Maybe I just need to retrain myself. But any suggestions would be appreciated.
For the sake of the inquisitive, can both Warrenh and Papertrail define "low volumes" - I mean in terms of dB.
Eldartford, I'm curious about headphone listening. I'm often in a situation where headphones are the only practical way to enjoy music. I do use them but I'm not crazy about the musical event sounding like it's coming from inside my head. Does a truly high end headphone system project an image of the event in front of you like a speaker system does?
When eating something crunchy, the sound of bone (vibration) conduction in my ear, would overpower the music. A whisper of sound is what I'm talking about. It freaks me out how low I can listen and the Defs still (along, of course with SET)can deliver top to bottom.
i have noticed recently, that i prefer low volume listening, i.e., in the 70db or less range, even though my speakers, quad 63 are hardly efficient.
it is possible that as one ages, one turns down the volume.
I would not be satisified with 70db with Quads or the like. Very unsatisfying and always want to turn it up. I had Maggies and it was as if I had a blanket over the speakers. With 101db there are oodles of possibilites. I do agree with Mrt, however, that I am not as agressive with the volume control as I used to be. And I'm over 50.
Sound "inside the head" is the effect you get with earphones when the signal is monaural. Quite dramatic..frightening really. However, with a stereo source, or better yet a "binaural" recording specifically made for headset listening, the soundstage is wide and precise in a way that no loudspeaker can duplicate.
Eldarford, after listening for a prolonged amount of time, do the headphones ever start to annoy your ears? I'm talking about where the headphones touch the ears.
Warrenh...Yes, headphones do become an annoyance. I use them only when I am in deep contemplative mood, and don't intend to move out of my soft chair any time soon. There are wireless headphones, but I don't know about their sonic quality.
I certainly don't expect anyone to give up their speakers for a headset, but it is nice to have them for a change of pace once in a while. The sonic quality is amazing. I heard an interview on the radio about some folk who have made movies with a sound track designed for headset playback. Just for fun they put in a few jokes, like the guy in the next seat spilling his popcorn. They say that the audience reaction to this event is interesting to observe.
For those of you considering a quality pair of headphones... just get it over with, and buy a pair of Sennheiser 650s and a cheap tube headphone amp like a MG Head OTL or a MF X-Can.
Guaranteed, it will be some of the best $500 something total you've spent in audio.
All you need is a output on your preamp.
The point is not to "replace" speaker experiences with the headphones, but to augment the set of possible musical reproduction experiences.