The Stax I thread

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by knerian, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    861
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Wow. The ADI-2 and the 1541 are my two main contendors. Can you easily hear a difference between them? I'm leaning towards the RME as it comes with a remote and built in EQ which I can use to boost the bass. Thanks!
     
  2. bengo

    bengo Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Divisive Kingdom
    Home Page:
    Get a Behringer DEQ2496 instead for EQ (or use software if your only source is a computer) and buy whichever DAC sounds best. Soekris has a sale on currently.

    @Kattefjaes might be your best bet for a Schiit DAC in your vicinity.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  3. mark47

    mark47 Rando

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Italy
    zolkis's mod, for Sr007.
    He did it for the stax sr007 mk1.
    Is it ok also for mk2?

    thank you
    regards
     
  4. gepardcv

    gepardcv Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
    Likes Received:
    348
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Terra, Sol System
    With all DSP turned off and matched (I built a volume-matching AB switch box for balanced DACs), and using similar filters (I use the various slow types), no, I cannot hear a difference between the 1541 and the ADI-2.

    With almost any DSP used on the ADI-2, the differences jump out. That said, I think that using DSP causes a little more long-term listening fatigue. I haven’t tried that hard to isolate the effect since after the day of comparison testing, the two DACs went into different systems. But my impression, which I’m not 100% certain about, is that the 1541 (original, non-upgraded filters) sounds smoother and more relaxed than the ADI-2+PEQ. The ADI-2 has a more fun and involving sound, though, since I tried to match the Harman curve for the 007. (As best I could without making my own measurements. Thinking about doing that.)

    Worth noting: the Windows driver for the ADI-2 blows chunks. It works fine on macOS and iOS (and probably Linux) without drivers. Not so on Windows 10, including the latest UAC2 driver from Microsoft. It needs RME’s proprietary driver. That thing supposedly does the right thing in ASIO mode, but I wasn’t using it that way. In regular mode, it requires manually switching sample rates, and has trouble with my main USB hub (but works with others). I posted about it on RME’s forum, but the staff there is not very receptive to criticism.

    To summarize: both DACs do most things right. If you don’t use Windows, the ADI-2 is a cheaper and more flexible device. If you do use Windows, it might work out for you anyway, depending on the hardware and playback software you use. Even the Pro version is available for significantly under MSRP from some vendors. The 1541 is probably a more conventional and safe choice, as it has no discernible problems to my ears. I had to put dimming stickers on all its LEDs, but that’s just my preference for gear that doesn’t glow in the dark.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  5. skem

    skem Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    People’s Republic of Cambridge
    I will echo @gepardcv’s supposition that DSP causes listening fatigue. In all the DSP systems I’ve ever heard, that has always been the case. I don’t know why, but I always wind up turning off DSP in the end. This is true when when the processing is being done with 64bit depth. I don’t have a DSP that would upsample the rate, however, which might be needed to push artifacts out of the audioband. Others here know more about this than I do and may be able to explain why.

    On 1541, the power supply implementation and other general board stuff is really poor. This makes the DAC sensitive to power-line noise, RF, etc. I can not recommend it.
     
  6. zolkis

    zolkis Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2016
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Finland
    Short answer: yes.

    Long answer: there were many mod attempts, but what consistently worked was:
    - removing (cut off with a ceramic knife) the 4mm thick white styrofoam base from the earpads filling, i.e. use only the upper, softer foam part
    - removing the metal spring from the pads
    - optionally, not using the dust grill either. No problems in many years, but much more immediate sound.

    I have also done the mod on the Mk2, with slightly different effect than on the Mk1, but for both it was this mod that brought out the best from them. I have also tried the port mod on the Mk2, but I didn't like how it sounded (perhaps I have left more detailed impressions on head-fi).

    FWIW, the 009 pads with the same mod (removed white base layer from the ear pads) have consistently been the best sounding pads on all my headphones. A little expensive, but well worth it. IME the secret is that they are not too thick/deep and not too shallow either, with a good ratio of oval inner opening and sealing capability and a good choice of back-to-front angle.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  7. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    861
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Thanks for the detailed response.

    The RME is 799 GBP in the UK and unfortunately the Soekris 1541 is 1115 GBP after adding 20% VAT in the EU. This is even after their SBAF discount.

    I don't want to pay 40% more if the differences are minute or very difficult to make out, I guess I'll go with RME.
     
  8. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,496
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    London, UK
    [​IMG]

    Stax 007 & 009 Brief Impressions
    I made an unplanned visit to KJ West One in London yesterday. I had my first real estat experience, barring the HE-1. I spent a little time with the 007 and 009 driven from a Stax T8000. It was a bit rushed so take the following impressions as such. This post in the Audeze thread serves as a precursor to this one: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ze-lcd-4-again-anyone.462/page-10#post-213042

    Stax 007
    The 007 were nice, not sure what mk, and they felt fairly engaging right away. Might have had some of that HD650 vocal ability, with more clarity, resolution, speed, and extended bass. It did have a lighter presentation vs Audeze planars and even more so Focal dynamics but it didn’t feel problematic, and I’m usually very sensitive to anything with a thin presentation ala the HD800. Some of the mid range felt claustrophobic though, a bit like an Audeze. Biggest problem with them was the poor bass, it sounded distorted, notably worse than even a HD650.

    Stax 009, with a ‘Little Utopia
    I moved on to the 009 and pretty much left the 007 alone after that. The 009 had an incredibly vibrant sound, I’m not talking tone, though they were a bit brighter and the mids more balanced. I think this quality is due to a combination of incredible resolution, air, and speed. The Utopia has some of this but the pads being so deep and thick contort the staging and soften the upper treble frequencies too much, and they’re not the fastest dynamic on the block. The HE-1 was the only other headphone I’ve experienced this sense of vibrancy from, I’m pretty sure that's why it made such an impression on me. The presentation as with the 007 is light, but the bass was well extended, fast, and tight. I found them the most engaging with really wonderful mids, replicating delicate parts of music with an easy finesse. It has many of the immediately positive traits of my Utopia without the kludged up staging and closed-in sound. My time was brief but I suspect that I may well find the 009 a better set of trade offs than the Utopia, and perhaps it has fewer of them in the first place.

    Feedback from a Profile Post
    Yesterday @9suns and @purr1n had some helpful advice. @9suns indicated to me that the T8000 was under driving the 007, thus responsible for the messy bass, and that a BHSE or Carbon would be revelatory. I’m somewhat surprised by this as the 009 didn’t exhibit the same issue from the same amp, and at least from the specs they’re only minutely easier to drive. But I guess the rules may be different with estats? When asking about an amp with a saner price/performance ratio @9suns suggested looking into the SRX Plus.

    @purr1n urged caution at being too enamoured with my first estat experience. I have fallen into the trap previously whereby even though I am aware of the cons of an item not enough time has passed for them to sink in and start bugging me. So even when my negative thoughts have remained the same I hadn‘t yet explored or subsequently emphasised them enough when writing impressions. I came across the below post and subsequent discussion when reading through an older thread about estats vs dynamics, which may have been what @purr1n was alluding to? It is absolutely the sort of thing I wasn’t able to pay attention to in demo circumstances.

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...amic-vs-estat-round-15.2592/page-2#post-70239
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 4
    • List
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  9. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,176
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    London, UK
    That's a pretty bad amp in general, @BenjaminBore. You can pay less and get a much better amp by going BHSE or Carbon. Not a good way to get a first taste, and certainly not a useful basis for comparison.

    It's a bit like reviewing dynamics plugged into a Liquid Carbon or something.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    73,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  11. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    196
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    It is true that the specified sensitivity of the 007 and 009 are very close - at 1 kHz. However, the frequency response of the 007 drops above that frequency, so in the 2-4 kHz range it is about 3-4 dB lower compared to the 009. Since this is the range where we tend to judge subjective loudness, that means that the 007 sounds quieter by comparison, so subjectively we tend to crank up the volume a notch or two. Since 3 dB is double the power, this means that the 007 seems to be more power hungry than the 009 despite the near parity in sensitivity when measured at 1 kHz. At least, that's what I think is happening.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 7
    • List
  12. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    196
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    @BenjaminBore, also, in terms of the 007, you almost certainly listened to the Mk2, since the Mk1 hasn't been made for several years. The Mk2, in all its unofficial variations, has a vent to prevent the dreaded "Stax fart", and as a result has a mild bass hump at about 40-50 Hz, rolling off below that point. That may account in part for your impressions of the bass. The spritzer port mod fix can cure that (at the price of reinstating the "fart") but of course a dealer would demo the stock model.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  13. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,496
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    London, UK
    That’s a wise deduction @JimL. I have experienced this myself recently with the LCD-2C.

    As far as my specific experience with the 007 I am now more inclined to think that there was a fault. Another way to describe it would be a faint gravelly imprint upon bass notes, most evident during electronic bass lines.

    If I do eventually decide to pursue an electrostat system I’ll be sure to seek out another more extended listening session. Preferably with more than one, ideally better, amp.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  14. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    196
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    That sounds reasonable. The bass extension of the 007 vs the 009 could, however, could be due to the frequency response differences.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    73,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    If you can get an amp, I'd be happy to tend you a modded SR007mk2. Right channel is a bit funky, so is needs to be stored in desictant when not in use.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  16. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,496
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    London, UK
    Later after having read everyone’s comments here I came across this in an old IF article and things started clicking into place: https://www.innerfidelity.com/conte...mplifiers-stax-srm-727tii#bhOHkAbsgqLv3PYg.99
    It has occured to me previously that the amp of an electrostatic is much more integral to the headphone as it is in a sense also acting as the headphone‘s motor, thus having a much larger effect on the end result vs a magnet based headphone system. So I’m starting to understand that electrostatics are a different ballgame alltogether, and that there are probably larger challenges in driving these things than I would have guessed. Yesterday I just wasn’t comprehending that they could be so seriously under driven, so I wasn’t understanding the true significance of your post. This has lead me to the thinking that Stax must be boneheads.

    Thanks again for the offer, maybe I was being a little British about it but I just assumed it wouldn’t extend to include shipping internationally, and potential customs BS.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  17. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2017
    Likes Received:
    599
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Poland
    A bit offtop here, but I'm going to get Kingsound KS-H03 headphones very soon and was wondering how good/bad are those. If I'm thrashing Stax thread, my apologies.
     
  18. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,915
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Dijon / Burgundy / France / EU
    Never heard myself. All reputable ears told me it was really really bad though. :D
     
  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,176
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    London, UK
    Likewise, I've not heard them, but I know experienced Stax heads who wince when they're mentioned.

    Well, maybe be glad that you discovered this before shelling out on an expensive Stax-badged amp- that's a hell of an upside, considering how much the 8k costs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  20. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    196
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    In terms of amps, a Stax SRM-T1 series runs about $500-700 USD on eBay, plus $100 USD in parts to replace all the old electrolytic caps and modify it to constant current load outputs. So modified, it will do a decent job driving an SR007, and I personally prefer it to a global feedback modded SRM-727, which I sold after a direct comparison. Of course, you can spend more on an amp and do better, but that's a pretty good budget option for Stax, if you are willing and able to do a little DIY or find someone to do it for you.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 4
    • List

Share This Page