A Brief Stroll Through the Headphone Garden: CanJam 2021

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
I drove down to CanJam 2021 in Irvine, California, today to hang out with Marc Meisner, a friend from the San Francisco Bay area who is a very long-time and experienced audiophile, and who happened to be in town, and to take Jason Lord, the owner of The Source AV, out for dinner. Jason has a very large and elaborate headphone and headphone amp demo facility in his large and beautiful store in Torrance, California.

I figured Marc and I would just have drinks at the bar, but he actually wanted to audition some headphones. Go figure! He recently ordered the Audeze electrostatic headphones, and he wanted to audition a few more.

I used to use Sennheiser headphones for weak signal work on amateur radio. I have never in my life put on high-end audio headphones until today.

I think I tried about seven different headphones today, including the Audeze electrostatic, the Raal SR1a ribbon headphone (which positions itself off of the ears), a top-of-the-line Stax electrostatic, the HiFiMan Shangri-La, the Dan Clark Voce and the Dan Clark Stealth. Most audition set-ups included a very serious-looking tube headphone amplifier by HeadAmp called the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic.


6CD9B551-72F6-419F-BC83-4E6F6B98A906.jpeg


My tentative conclusions:

I like the headphones that are open (not fully closed) on the sides.

My favorite headphone was the Dan Clark Voce. My second favorite was the HiFiMan Shangri-La. None of the headphones before the Voce really did anything for me. When I listened to the Voce, I recognized what is to me a more natural sound, and, somehow, a sound that I am familiar with. Very quickly I felt that this was the headphone for me. For the first time all day I wanted to continue listening to music on this thing. It sounded natural; it sounded "musical" and tonally "right."

The Stax sounded a little bit sterile and threadbare or skeletal to me. It totally reminded me of the sound of the Martin-Logan CLS.

My favorite headphone amplifier was the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic.

I learned today that the best headphones and headphone amplifiers offer a musically complete rendition of music. However, for me, they offer no suspension of disbelief.

I am not going to buy anything. This is because I can't figure out how I would use headphones. I have never used headphones to listen to music. I don't want to use headphones to listen to music.

But if I had to buy a headphone set-up I would get the Dan Clark Voce and the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic. That is a pretty sweet pairing.

And I would use vinyl as my source component.
 
Last edited:

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
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Washington State, US
I drove down to CanJam 2021 in Irvine, California, today to hang out with Marc Meisner, a friend from the San Francisco Bay area who is a very long-time and experienced audiophile, and who happened to be in town, and to take Jason Lord, the owner of The Source AV, out for dinner. Jason has a very large and elaborate headphone and headphone amp demo facility in his large and beautiful store in Torrance, California.

I figured Marc and I would just have drinks at the bar, but he actually wanted to audition some headphones. Go figure! He recently ordered the Audeze electrostatic headphones, and he wanted to audition a few more.

I used to use Sennheiser headphones for weak signal work on amateur radio. I have never in my life put on high-end audio headphones until today.

I think I tried about seven different headphones today, including the Audeze electrostatic, the Raal SR1a ribbon headphone (which positions itself off of the ears), a top-of-the-line Stax electrostatic, the HiFiMan Shangri-La, the Dan Clark Voce and the Dan Clark Stealth. Most audition set-ups included a very serious-looking tube headphone amplifier by HeadAmp called the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic.


View attachment 82274


My tentative conclusions:

I like the headphones that are open (not fully closed) on the sides.

My favorite headphone was the Dan Clark Voce. My second favorite was the HiFiMan Shangri-La. None of the headphones before the Voce really did anything for me. When I listened to the Voce, I recognized what is to me a more natural sound, and, somehow, a sound that I am familiar with. Very quickly I felt that this was the headphone for me. For the first time all day I wanted to continue listening to music on this thing. It sounded natural; it sounded "musical" and tonally "right."

The Stax sounded a little bit sterile and threadbare or skeletal to me. It totally reminded me of the sound of the Martin-Logan CLS.

My favorite headphone amplifier was the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic.

I learned today that the best headphones and headphone amplifiers offer a musically complete rendition of music. However, for me, they offer no suspension of disbelief.

I am not going to buy anything. This is because I can't figure out how I would use headphones. I have never used headphones to listen to music. I don't want to use headphones to listen to music.

But if I had to buy a headphone set-up I would get the Dan Clark Voce and the Blue Hawaii Special Edition Electrostatic. That is a pretty sweet pairing.

And I would use vinyl as my source component.
The Stax does not sound sterile if you use right ampliifier for it.

I would have driven there if it is within 4 hour's drive from my home.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
9,842
4,518
965
Beverly Hills, CA
The Stax does not sound sterile if you use right ampliifier for it.
. . .

I am confident that The Source AV was using an appropriate amplifier.

Apparently, this is a respectable combination:

 
Last edited:

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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4,518
965
Beverly Hills, CA

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
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Australia
stax headphones have always sounded abit lean and sterile to me .I perfer planner headphones
and looking at getting a pair of the new audaze lcd5.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,762
1,259
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I have Raal Sr1a in addition to HD 800 / Stax 009s.

No more desiire to get another headphones.
I did not realize (or forgot) that you have the HD800. How do you drive it? We are using the EAR Yoshino HP4.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,932
716
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Pleasanton, CA
I find the older low bias Stax to have more body and less of the audiophile skeleton ultra detail paradigm, while still being plenty detailed. However, what I have heard a couple of times from Stax 009/blue hawaii, I concur they sound a bit too thin.
 

Mikem53

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2020
662
562
105
I am not going to buy anything. This is because I can't figure out how I would use headphones. I have never used headphones to listen to music. I don't want to use headphones to listen to music.
I concur.. I bought a pair of HD650’s several years ago, nice tube headphone amp , with some sweet sounding 6922 NOS bugle boy’s.. Probably has 10 hours or less on the whole setup after more than a decade.. just seems “contained” sounding and unnatural to me.. music under a microscope..
I need openness and space for my music.. otherwise I find it detracts from the music, but I enjoy attending the can-fests when they are in town..
 

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