I was never really a headphones listener until November 2013 when Meridian shipped me a Prime Headphone Amp to do a review. [Being a moderator on the Meridian Hitchhikers’ forum had some benefits ]
Years before, I’d bought myself a pair of Sennheiser HD600s at a real knock-down price – mainly because I felt that I should own a pair of proper cans – but in truth I hardly used them. The Prime changed that: I fed it from my Meridian 861 and it was a riot. And so my headphones journey really began. Ultimately, my experience with the Prime cost me a lot of money!
The Prime ended up on extended loan (it did eventually go back) and I also got a loan Prime PSU review unit to boot. They ended up on my desk at my (pre-Roon) work desk. But I realized very quickly that open-back headphones were not the thing for an open-plan office environment.
After some recommendations and research, I got a pair of Etymotic ER-4PT IEMs which also came with an adapter to turn them into a pair of more accurate, but less sensitive, ER-4S monitors. These are excellent IEMs and definitely a reference against which all headphones can be measured. They also double as really effective ear-plugs as they have a lot of noise isolation (35-42 dB according to the spec.)! And I use them regularly, particularly when I travel (they are fabulous on planes).
I also indulged in the lower end of the STAX range with an SRM-252S energizer and SR-003 electrostatic IEMs. They sound utterly fantastic, albeit without much bass, but are really uncomfortable to wear. I believe that it is possible to get some custom mouldings to fit them…
A Meridian Explorer 2 followed in early 2016, after the Prime units had gone back.
And then I went the whole hog, importing (from Japan) a STAX SRM-007tA (007tII) and a pair of (at the time, but no longer top-of-the-range) SR-009 cans.
Even at full retail price – and I paid nowhere near that – considering how much many of us spend on loudspeaker systems, these are an audiophile bargain. The SR-009s are are only Hi-Fi component I’ve heard that I can’t fault in any way. During the day, working from a home office, I listen to my Meridian DSP loudspeakers, but when others are in the house, these are a perfect family and neighbour-friendly indulgence!
So, what can do you guys listen through?!