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Excellent but a bit too expensive

A Review On: Stax SR-009 Electrostatic Headphones

Stax SR-009 Electrostatic Headphones

Rated # 87 in Over-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
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Price paid: $5,675.00
uchihaitachi
Posted · 24771 Views · 10 Comments

Pros: Well crafted, detailed and realistic timbre

Cons: Price

As the subjective sound quality of the SR-009 has been extensively discussed in the other reviews, I will focus on my objective experiences. Whenever I purchase new high-end products, I always choose to run a blind test consisting of the model in question alongside other high-end headphones. This time, the comparison counterparts included the LCD-3, HD800, HD650 and Orpheus. 

 

My subjective impressions always tend to take a similar route: there exists a very strong correlation between the price tag and the sound quality that I perceive. It was no different this time. Therefore, I performed the blind test on ten participants who are all fellow classical musicians in a blindfolded setting (with the volume matched etc).

 

The results this time were indeterminate. However, the HD800 came last followed by the Orpheus. After the blindfolds were removed, the Orpheus was unanimously agreed as having the best sound quality (the Orpheus does look rather magnificent). The Stax was chosen to have the best sound quality by three people.

 

This kind of test demonstrates that all these high end headphones do not have such a huge disparity in sound quality as made out by other subjective reviews. Therefore, I am always slightly let down by products with such a steep price tag as the Stax. Evidently it is not as steep as the Orpheus, however, for this money, I believe it is more worthwhile buying a pair of speakers.

 

I believe it is also important to stress that the superlatives associated with this headphone should be taken with a grain of salt, in fact several pounds would suffice. I do not think that the SR-009 sounds bad. On the contrary, I believe it sounds fantastic (I had very similar experiences to Currawong's review). However, as this test has demonstrated, it does not outperform other high end counterparts with noticeable significance (this is especially noteworthy as the other test headphones except for the Orpheus are considerably cheaper than the Stax). 

 

Hence all in all, I believe that the SR-009 is an outstanding piece of gear, but by no means the King of headphones.

10 Comments:

Very interesting.
What amps and source was being used for the test and what music was played?
I used several amps. The amp section of the Orpheus, Goldmund Telos 5000 and the
Onkyo PA-MC5500 Power Amp. Both, among the best amps out there specifications wise.
Pretty much every high end audio gear is a rave, and I am saddened to see people save up that extra amount of cash to buy a 5000 dollars headphone when a 1500 dollar headphone will more than suffice if not improve on its more expensive counterpart.
I'm confused:
"the Orpheus was unanimously agreed as having the best sound quality"
"The Stax was chosen to have the best sound quality by three people."
I'm guessing that since this is a Stax review that the SR-009 ultimately has better sound quality.
After the BLINDFOLDS were removed "the Orpheus was unanimously agreed as having the best sound quality" (effect of the orpheus amp's visual stimulus)
"The Stax was chosen to have the best sound quality by three people." The result is insignificant as HD650 and LCD-3 had also been favorited by three persons.
I think you need a BHSE for your SR009 and an Aristeus for your HE90.
I think it is a very good experiment! Thank you very much. But I'd like to think that is more samples were used (like more than 40), then the result will be more convincing and we can see if there is really significant differences among these headphones.
Plus one to this. I wish more reviews were done this way, even a single blind opinion would be valuable. Price is no guarantee of better sound quality. I recently auditioned a ~$30k 'dream' system and listening to the same tracks in my car straight after I was amazed to hear the car audio put out better detail and more defined bass. Its a 2008 Volvo premium sound which I think is Dyn drivers, so pretty nice, but the whole car cost me less than the retail price of this home hi fi comprising bryston, moon, pmc etc...
Plus one to this. I wish more reviews were done this way, even a single blind opinion would be valuable. Price is no guarantee of better sound quality. I recently auditioned a ~$30k 'dream' system and listening to the same tracks in my car straight after I was amazed to hear the car audio put out better detail and more defined bass. Its a 2008 Volvo premium sound which I think is Dyn drivers, so pretty nice, but the whole car cost me less than the retail price of this home hi fi comprising bryston, moon, pmc etc...
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