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Stax SR-507 Electrostatic Earspeaker

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Pros: Balanced sound,more defined & deeper/non boomy bass than previous lambdas, leather pads, click-type headband (doesn't slide off), no mids etch.

Cons: $$$,SR-407 reportedly close sound-wise.Pads/Headband maybe not as comfortable as the pleather ones/lambda arc.A bit heavy to wear.Maybe not 'fun'

Slight issues:




The foam in one of the ears was folded on itself on the edge.

pic



No big deal, a retractable pecil to pinch it and unroll it.



One of the pads wasn't stuck properly to the driver similar to what I had with SR-404 in pic (left side). Pressed on it, now seems ok, unlike the SR-404 doesn't unstick.



Also, when you take the SR-507 out of the box they'll smell like oil based glue for a bit. After a while they'll start smelling like leather again.





None are the end of the world, but I'd prefer not to have to ventilate my $900 HP before use, or poke into them with a pencil to straighten the foam.




Reportedly, SR-407 isn't far from SR-507 sound-wise graben's impressions and have the old head-band, but new driver assembly (possibly different driver, but who knows?)





HP pics:


Pics apologies:

It's surprisingly hard to take decent pics of shiny/smooth surfaces or overall black headphones...These took nearly two hours and 2 more slightly correcting and cropping in ACDSee:

  • no nice furniture (or HP stand), bad taste curtains.

  • far from perfect lighting and no ext flash - harsh shadows, burn highlights (did I mention sometimes shooting against the windows?)

  • chromatic aberations (nice purple mostly on dark-light edges),

  • digital noise

  • screwed up composition (e.g. shoes, salt shaker, etc in the pics) and uninteresting shots, shocking backgrounds)

  • purple tint on some pics.

  • cropped zooms with dust visible

  • aperture effects not really used (trust me, getting things in focus and with more or less ok exposure was hard enough)

  • a couple of dead pixes on the matrix (yes, that lone red and green pixel)




My appologies about how the manual turned out. I spent a couple of minutes cleaning them up, but they're still pretty bad.




You can view the gallery, but you can't get to full sized pics from there, and I didn't really categorize pics there: Gallery




unboxing


1 2 3 4




headband:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7



cable:

1 2


driver enclosures and pages:

1 2 3 4


Side views

1 2 3 4


Manual

1 2 3 4 5 6


Gear setup pics

1 2 3



Gear setup


DACs: Musiland MD11 DAC (over 2.2uf caps for DC filtering, since it outputs DC out. Used only for some metal) and Yulong D100 (most other music)

HPs: Sony MDR-CD3000 and MDR-SA5000 as on hand comparison HP. SR-404 as by memory HP. You can read my previous impressions in impressions

Driver unit: SRM-1/mk2 lovingly restored/refreshed and slight upgraded with the help of Kevin Gilmore and Spritzer. Review here: SRM-1/mk2 review




Features


Info on stax site: 1(html)2(pdf)

New headband assembly (clicks in places instead of sliding - doesn't slide off on its own), new driver assembly (no more glue - now a resin enclosure), new driver materials, leather pads (nice thick ones). A manual with English sections! (no, seriously, it's a feature biggrin.gif )




Design/Comfort (TBC)


Whether the new arc assembly+pads are more comfortable than the trusty old Lambda (classic) frame/old pleather pads is debatable. Still they're certainly pretty comfortable in their own right.

Unlike with Lambda frame HPs I owned, with SR-507, you can now eat or chew while wearing them. Uuuum, not that it helps resale value, or that it's a good practice to have food/drinks near $900 HP.

With respect to the new driver and driver enclosure, it looks like a good idea too (vs glue)

The new Click assembly doesn't slide from the set distance between the arc/suspended headband bit.




Sound (general) (TBC)


So far - not fun headphones like SR-404 (404 had boomy bass, mids emphasis, to me - very enjoyable for some music, but might not suit some tastes and [404] isn't as detailed as say SR-202). SR-507 bass goes deeper isn't boomy/is better defined. Mids aren't as prominent. I find I can listen at lower volumes than SR-404 and still enjoy the music/hear the details (probably because of the less boomy bass and less emphasised mids).

I really can't put my finger on the sound signature. They seem to not have any overly prominent/annoying or dipped or FR chars like my previous lambdas. Mids are still a bit warm, and the detail level is great across the FR.
They're certainly feeling more balanced and neutral than CD3000 or SA5000 or SR-404.
I'll put more impressions here when I have more time to listen to them.






UPDATE


The arc is extremely uncomfortable for me to wear for longer than about 2h. While it is a lot sturdier and doesn't crackle when twisted (when you move your jaw or head or ears), the pressure at the top of earpads gives me a headache.
I've replaced the arc with a Nova Classic old style arc assembly (sr-303/2/4 ones will also do, thank you, spritzer!).
Meh.

Sound suitability to specific genres of music (TBC)


Generally suitable for most music genre (provided you're ok with neutral to slightly bright presentation). The deeper bass and neutral highs make them good for anything from classical strings, piano solo, orchestra, voice to subtypes of rock and metal(ummm yea, not really... see below) (including the harder types). Just make sure neutral is what you want, not bright and fun/boomy bass. (although, they are reasonably bright, but not as much as SR-404 in the mids or highs (no mids etch))

I also had a chance to compare them against 404LE at the melb meet. 404LE had a bit more forward and fun mids and bass, and was probably more suited to easy listening. (so more similar to 404, I suppose). 507 was more towards the neutral side, and probably had a bit more bass extension, but a bit less 'fun' (amount) bass.




a side-note on bass - if you boost FA-002w's lower end by about 2db on 30hz, 1db 50hz, it goes even deeper than before. In comparison, FA-002w's bass is probably about 40-60hz deeper (and +8-10 db louder) than 48e and 20-30 than SR-507 (and 4-6db louder). It's interesting to see what's missing from DT48e and SR-507. Does it make a difference? Not so much for classical, but for metal, rock etc certainly =\ For classical for old recordings it's better to have brighter mids (to make out what's actually going on ). But for easy listening, probably would be nice to have the lower end too :\

A word of caution on the new headband:


About the screw at the bottom of each earcup holder.
Well, one of the screws on my SR-507 came off today (the middle one that actually fixes the holder to the headband). As did one of the earcups...
Now thankfully it happened when I was playing with them on a table on a bubble wrap pad, but I don't image it would be a pleasing experience when one of your $1k ear-speakers falls off your head.

It took 1/2 a day to get a proper tool to put it back (turned out it's a star screwdriver not a hex tool...the right size star screwdriver head is marked cr-v t6), and then a few minutes to unscrew the other cup to see what the proper order for the stack of:

rubber thingy, metal thingy, metal tube, [holder] metal thingy with a smaller diameter was...(I still don't know if it's the right order, since the stack fell apart when I took off the second earcup before I could note the order)

I'd really recommend you check that your screw is tight and you won't have one earspeaker flying across the floor when you try put the hp on.
Now I'm slightly wary about how durable the construction of the headband is and whether I won't have a cup holder bolt snap into the holder screw slot and necessitate a new headband that cost > $150?


Stax SR-507 Electrostatic Earspeaker
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Stax site page: http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/SR507e.html Pics album: http://www.head-fi.org/gallery/album/view/id/18724/user_id/125162

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