2020: Stax SR-009s vs LCD-4

When you don’t ever want to buy another set of Headphones again and you are just looking to go big and get it over with. What to buy?

Here are some ideas:


Anything better around or under those price ranges? Just assume best amp/dacs possible, including those in recommendations just add complexity.

Please only provide recommendations from personal experience.

Interestingly would also likely be trying to use whatever I upgrade to for games, music, movies, everything. Just one set that I use for ideally 20+ years… lol I know that sounds unrealistic but would be ideal.

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Both are very different sounding. I’ve heard the LCD-4 and used to own the SR-009 non s. The S are just a refinement of the 009 they both sound pretty similar. The LCD-4 is thicker sounding, better low end extension and are a lot closer and less airy. The 009 are quite clincal sounding. They kind of remind me of the HD800 in this way but without the monster treble peak. They are the fastest most detailed headphone I have heard but I just found that they lacked soul for lack of a better word. I didnt find myself enjoying music with them unless it was was a very well recorded track.

I much prefer the sound of the Stax Omega 007mk2 over the 009 however the issue with those is they require a much more powerful energiser to drive than the 009. 009 gets driven fine off a srm 323 or 353x but obviously people would recommend you run it with a KGSS or Blue Hawaii.

Honestly I wouldn’t bother with the 009 if looking at Stax or electrostatics. Get yourself a 007 paired with an SRM 717 (used) or a new SRM 727 and get the feedback mod done to it. You’ll be in sonic bliss.


Xevman, nice response. Is there something else you would recommend over 007mk2 for daily use? Doesn’t have to be electrostatic but if the 007 is your pick for this price range that is totally cool.


I’d look at the Focal Utopia too.

I would pick the SR-009, but get a different energizer.

I think I can try out some of these at a local high end audio store. However I know they are missing many brands such as Stax.

Another option I saw that has pretty good reviews is.

It would be useful if I could just listen to them all myself first. lol

As I personally haven’t been able to experience any headphone over $800+ are these multi-grand headphones really that much better than headphones I can get for under $1000?

I like to think some of them likely are. The more I think about Stax and maintenance in general of electrostatics I think it goes against my desire to have a Headphone that lasts 20+ years. Feel like they will get ruined in that time if I am listening to them everyday for the next 5 years next to a sometimes dusty PC.

The Focal Utopias seem like a Solid safe choice honestly, but based on a ZEOS review about them not living up to the hype, it concerns me.

I wouldn’t go with Zeos for TOTL headphone reviews.
What are you intending for a source, you really don’t want to be spending $2K+ on headphones and skimping on DAC/Amps.

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First, welcome!

Second, gear pairing is important, and Z doesn’t tend to take the time to ensure synergy of source gear with high end headphones. Utopias are pretty picky from what I’ve gathered, though I’ve only demoed them briefly in a shop.

Finally, what is your current setup and what are you looking to get out of your investment by way of change from what you have? At the flagship headphone level, you tend to need to also specifically build your source gear around it to get the most out of it.

I’m not sure you need to build specifically for a headphone, you do have to be able to drive them, and you do have to be in the ballpark for synergy, but good amps and DAC’s will work with a variety of TOTL headphones.
I’m very happy with my Amber 3 -> DNA Stratus into both my D8000 pro and my ZMF Verite, two very different headphones. On the other hand If I bought a Susvara or an Abyss I’d probably be looking for a SS Amp to driven them.

Mostly meant with synergy and sonic goals in mind…not that there’s only one ‘right answer’ for each high end can, or that signal chains are somehow mutually exclusive of sounding good with other headphones.

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Yeah, I plan on spending a couple grand on dac and amp depending on the headphones. Don’t really want to think about it until I know what the requirements of the Headphones are though. Easier to pick headphone first and then deal with the best way to power it next.

Currently running a modded Philips X2 and have heard various $300-$800 Sennheiser’s and Audze’s. Using cheapo Dac/Amp so really looking for a pretty sizable upgrade from current setup. Including Dac/Amp but again don’t really want to get into that section until I have a good Headphone candidate under $5000 that I can use daily for Games, Video Streaming (Netflix, Anime), Movies, Music.

I was thinking when the new consoles come out maybe I would potentially try to use it while gaming on those as well.

I just want to have a good all around experience long term and when spending that kind of money you need to ask for help (:

I do want to add I dabble with music as a side hobby every now and then so would be nice to have good quality audio while mixing, but this isn’t the priority, just a side note.

I mean you have to decide what’s important, how long are you going to listen how important is the weight/comfort, what sound signature do you prefer. What are you listening too, if you listen to a lot of bad recordings, it might be none of the flagships are a good choice, they all tend to be very resolving.
I use my Verite C’s for a lot of things, but if I’m gaming (and I don’t game competitively), I’ll just pick something light and comfortable, I don’t need 500+g’s on my head for that.

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To put this in perspective my The Verite C were my 3rd set of ZMF’s, I pretty much new what I was getting.
I picked up the D8000 pro’s, because they were on a short list of planars I wanted to try, and I got a reasonable price on an open box set of a headphone that doesn’t turn up much used.
And FWIW I have a lot more than a couple of grand in source gear. And while you can certainly enjoy headphones like that with a couple of grand in source gear, you are at a level where nuances in the source gear matter.

Here is a update of Headphones I am considering based on your guys feedback and more research.

In order of Interest:
-Meze Empyrean (Seems like overall it performs well and is a safe bet)
-Focal Clear (These look really nice but I am used to open headphones so that puts in second on my list)
-HIFIMAN SUNDARA (This seems like a really good headphone at its price range and will be better than what I currently have.)
-Focal Utopia (This seems highly subjective so concerns me but looks fucking dope so I hope I can try it out in person. This does also start making money a consideration)

I really am hoping to get into a store soon to maybe get lucky and try out some Focals but will not be able to try to others unfortunately.

Weight/comfort high. Probably 6+ hours a day.

Sound Signature neutral/warm. However, I do want clear low end. Just don’t require it to be all about the low end.

Listening to almost everything. Games, Movies, TV. Music: Alternative, Dub, Rap, Pop, Classical, Screamo, Almost anything to be fair.

Do I listen to a lot of bad recording. Yeah. Definetly. Based on games and other media. I do also enjoy some high quality flacs but like it isn’t the only thing I would use the headphones for.

So yeah, I don’t really need a flagship. But if they sound noticeably better in general that is what I am looking for.

A lot of the TOTL head phones are HEAVY, I wear my Verites for maybe 4 hours a day on occasion and they are comfortable enough, Susvara’s are I’m told the most comfortable of them along with maybe a Diana V2.
There is also a tendency for them to shove bad recordings in your face, they sound so good on great recordings, that it’s a hard transition to make to bad ones.
The Verites do a bit better in this regard, Than the other high end stuff I’ve listened to, most things sound good on them.

I think you’d get a lot out of the 1-2K range.
ZMF Eikon Or Auteur (has the advantage of being the ZMF that has the lowest used value) with either a Haggerman Tuba or BHC+speedball if you ant valves or maybe a lake people or violectric amp for SS.
Kennerton Gjallerhorn, or the cheaper version from the US seller, I really like mine, but it’s not neutral and it’s not trying to be - you’d need a SS amp for this.
LCD 2/3/X (again used) - I’d let others suggest amps.
HE1K V2 or SE, again I’d let someone else suggest amps

Those headphones all sound completely different to each other.
Pick a good amp depending on the selection, and a DAC at the Bifrost2/Soekris level and you have something very special.

If you buy the headphone used, you can probably resell it later at little or no loss, you’ll have a better idea what you want from the sound, and good enough electronics when you decide to move to TOTL Headphones.

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Lets say I ignore everyone and have listened to the Focal Clear, Utopia, and the Audeze LCD4 in store.

Would anyone recommend the Meze Empyrean over any of these if price isn’t a issue?

And out of those options what would you chose if you didn’t currently own any of them, only can choose one?

What amp would you buy for your choice?