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post #19486 of 24765

Good evening.

 

For what it is worth I hadn't listened to the Stax SR-404 signatures in quite a while.  I have been using my modded TF-10's (iem) mostly and have been very satisfied.  I plugged the Stax in last night and let them "charge" overnight.

 

I was shocked how different the Stax sound compared to the iem's   I am going to have to listen for awhile to tell exactly where but gosh they sound great!  

 

Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder!

 

Peter

post #19487 of 24765

As promised, what follows is a description of my Stax field trip complete with sonic impressions. The Bangkok Stax dealer sells an assortment of mid and high end headphones. They have a large and diverse inventory of non-Stax branded demos. In the Stax line-up they know their customer base well. The salesman said that more than half of their Stax sales were the 009. The rest of their sales were a mixture, but mostly the very low cost 2170 system which includes the SR 207 and an inexpensive driver unit. There is some logic to this because of the very large wealthy Thai class in Bangkok and the emerging middle class. The vast balance of the Thai population are not buying Stax headphones.

 

The shop was small but nicely arranged and I was able to sit off to the side on a comfortable sofa and do my listening. They had two Stax amps for demo the 323S and the 007t. They did have the 407, 507 and the 007mk2 for me to audition. As things go in Bangkok it was a nice professional looking shop. The dac used for this was something by Calyx  (more on that in a moment). I brought many samples of my own music with me including classical, jazz and soft rock. I began the listening session with the 507 and the 323S.  I was not at all expecting what I heard. The sound was very bassy with an extremely warm mid-range. As it happened I began with Amy Winehouse Rehab and the low frequency was shaking my jaw. I am aware that some might really like that type of wild pounding but not me. I look for a balanced sound top to bottom and what I heard in that combo was anything but balanced. I will give credit to the 323S in that the bass went deep and had slam and control, just way too much for my taste and that bass crept into the mid-range creating an overly warm signature. I switched to the 407 on the same track and found it to be much the same with less slightly less sharp bass attack and less warm mids. After the first thirty minutes switching tracks and headphones I was not encouraged. I switched to a classical track with the 507 and things got overly warm again but pleasantly so (surprise warm from a solid state amp). The 407 on the same track felt more balanced and neutral from top to bottom. while I was thinking of giving up on the spot I said to the salesman that something just did not sound right. I asked if they had the Yulong D18 dac, the same as I have at home. He agreed to the change. 

 

With the D18 in the mix things changed dramatically for the better. Since I was not there to buy a Calyx dac I was relieved at the change. now that the D18 was in the line up I could relax into the music and distinctly hear the differences. Since the listening was done over the course of many hours I will save you the details and jump to my impressions and the reasons for my purchase. After hours of sampling several tracks with all three headphones and the two amps on display, I was left with the fact that Stax does not have a "House Sound". Everything sounded different. This fact alone makes it extremely difficult to compare products or even rate them as they could be from different manufacturers. The biggest difference is in the amps. They are to my ear completely different. The 323S sounds nothing at all like 07t. Later when I insisted that they open a box and put out an 006t for me to listen the problem became worse as that amp sounded completely different then the others. I have no doubt after hearing them that the 323 was the most honest and neutral of the bunch. That became obvious over hours of testing with all three headphones. Using the 323S the 507 was at it's best, but I still felt an overabundance of bass and an overly warm mid-range. The headband on the 507 felt weird and pressed against my head in a not too comfortable way (but they were light as a feather). I should remind you here that the 007 was in the mix but I could only listen to it on the 07t as the salesman said that the 323 could not drive it. Comparing the 007 and 07t with the 507 and the 323S the 507 was the clear winner (I have no doubt the amp was a factor). The 007 shared that darkness with the 507 but with everything more refined but the darkness was too much for me. Frankly, had they been the same price I would still not have bought the 007 with the 07t even though the build quality was far superior. The 507 with the 323 was  more detailed with more natural mids and sparkle. The 007 was faster on transients. I might have bought the 507 and 323 but the salesman informed me that they had no 323 in stock. He said they rarely sell it. I was frankly disappointed and started to feel that I was not going to buy anything but then I asked him to unbox a 006t for me to hear.

 

I took a fifteen minute break to give my ears a rest while they set up the 006t fresh out of the box. All the other components tested were demos with many hours on them. I began with the 507 and the 006t and found it to sound amazingly like a poor version of the 007 with the 07t. It was again overly warm and that warmth again overpowered the mids. This may not be fair as the amp was fresh out the the box with no burn in. I switched to the 407 and I immediately knew that things were starting to sound right. These two were made for each other. On the 006t the 407's took on a very balanced tone from top to bottom. While the 507 was an obvious mismatch, the 407 shined although it did not sound as quick on transients as the 507 and 323 combo. The 407 was a near perfect match with the 006t with a slightly tube warmth and just a bit soft in the very bottom compared to the 323. The dealer offered me a substantial discount on the 4170 system which includes the 407 and the 006t. A discount far beyond the separate price and lower than pricejapan for the 4170 combo. I have always been a tube guy and the sound of that liquid mid-range got me. I like this dealer.

 

I have not talked about imaging or soundstage or even attempted to do any sort of a full review as that would make no sense from this short visit. I just wanted to relate my first impressions about Stax from someone who has been an audiophile for thirty years coming fresh into Stax. As someone who has just sold his HE500's due to comfort issues, I got the impression that the designers at Stax have spent a lot of time trying out the ortho's from Hifiman and Audeze. Perhaps the sudden success of those companies caused Stax to rethink their sonics (only a guess guys). 

 

One final point, The salesman said that the mylar on the 507 and the 407 were different thickness which accounted in part for the difference in sound. I have no idea if he has a direct line to the designers at Stax. I can tell you that the 407 has a slightly higher sensitivity than the 507. They do sound similar in many ways but they are not the same and they pair differently with Stax amps. Perhaps the cable is the difference? 


Edited by Chodi - 9/14/12 at 11:27pm
post #19488 of 24765
Congrats on your purchase, and welcome to the Stax world.

When I listened to the 507 for the first time with the 323S (both brand new) I shared your same exact experience: very bassy, dark sound.
In a few weeks the sound changed completely and the combo sounded nothing alike. The sound was so different I had to change the amp and look for something slightly richer like the 600ltd.
post #19489 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by realmassy View Post

Congrats on your purchase, and welcome to the Stax world.
When I listened to the 507 for the first time with the 323S (both brand new) I shared your same exact experience: very bassy, dark sound.
In a few weeks the sound changed completely and the combo sounded nothing alike. The sound was so different I had to change the amp and look for something slightly richer like the 600ltd.

The 06t I listened to was right out of the box so I assumed it would change and open up after burn in (maybe 100 hours?). All the other equipment I heard had been on demo for months and was well burned in. I did notice that the demo of the 407 headband was comfortably loose. When I got home and took the new one out of the box the clamping force was much tighter. I am assuming it will loosen up in time. I hope so because it is pretty tight as is. Since the headband is plastic I don't think it is a good idea to try and bend it.

post #19490 of 24765
I've got the 507 and they are now (1 year after) way more comfortable, that won't be a problem. But they won't get as comfortable as the 009 though :-)
As for the amp, there shouldn't be many differences between my 600 and your 006: from people I know having owned both the 600 should be less euphonic, but I never listened to the 006 in my setup. One potential advantage (not for me) of the 006 over the 600 is the tube rolling, you'll be able to tailor the sound according to your preferences.

In any case, I'm sure you'll like your setup and you'll enjoy your music for a long time!
I thought about upgrading the 507s a few times, I've listened to the 009s in my setup and they are amazing but I know I'll end up upgrading the rest of the rig...spending too much time on swapping things rather than listening to music :-)
post #19491 of 24765

I asked the dealer about the 600ltd as I figured he might have one but he said it was discontinued and I could not even order it. I have no idea how well informed he really was on this. I would be very interested in tube rolling but i am afraid their is scant information from owners. I think I saw one post about that and I will go find if when I get ready to buy some decent tubes. I wonder if I have to re-bias the amp when I change tubes?

post #19492 of 24765

Yes, it's best to rebias the amp when you change the tubes.

 

Instructions can be found in this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/324155/biasing-stax-srm-t1

The SRM-T1 is very similar to the 006T, so the same instructions apply.

You need a multimeter to measure and a small slotted screwdriver to turn the pots inside the amp.

post #19493 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keithpgdrb View Post

I use an amprobe MM.  I have it set to auto arrange, and it has settings for checking caps.    it just goes to overload each time.  what is odd, is that when I disconnect one of the probes from the cap, I get a brief reading.  I made a short video of the multimeter reading the cap.  I start with it connected to the + arm, and then I add the -..  You hear it overload.  I remove the negative leg, and I get the reading.    as far as I know, this MM should be fine for checking everything on this project.  Besides the fact that I want to have a good cap, I need to figure out how to do this.  it should be simple

 

.

 

That's the meter acting up.  If the cap was fubar then it would probably just read as a short so go ahead and install it.  Given that both the new and old cap for that position trip up the meter then it has to be at fault here. 

post #19494 of 24765

@chodi - welcome to the club. however, allow me to point out your following statement "......I got the impression that the designers at Stax have spent a lot of time trying out the ortho's from Hifiman and Audeze. Perhaps the sudden success of those companies caused Stax to rethink their sonics (only a guess guys)." I believe the 407/507 came out before Audeze or Hifiman line were launched. 

post #19495 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by forbigger View Post

@chodi - welcome to the club. however, allow me to point out your following statement "......I got the impression that the designers at Stax have spent a lot of time trying out the ortho's from Hifiman and Audeze. Perhaps the sudden success of those companies caused Stax to rethink their sonics (only a guess guys)." I believe the 407/507 came out before Audeze or Hifiman line were launched. 

you may be right about that I was not sure on the timeline. One thing is certain, there is more than a passing resemblance between the sound of the newest Lamdas and those orthos. You still get the speed of the es drivers so I am not implying a direct copy, only that their seems to be some of that ortho tonal signature in these new models. Just my impression.

post #19496 of 24765

@schorsch:

That's what I got told from the dealer I was listening the Stax phones.

There will be a new distributor soon for Germany. He also said that

he suspects that Zuehlke is solely selling to direct buyers. So in fact doesn't

do the distribution for Germany anymore.

I think you don't have to be afraid to loose your guarantee as the new

distributor should have to service that stuff as well.

 

Greets
 

post #19497 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shep View Post

Oh, now. There's a long time & many countries between the Quad ESL57's and the 10c's.  Different sources (vinyl/LP12, Quad SS and tube gear then vs. MacMini/Weiss/DEQX/Magtech & Usher R1.5's now).  The 57's were rebuilt by Quad Huntingdon.  So, if it's possible to convey a sense of listening over such enormous changes, the 10c's are like 57's (and 63's heard, not owned) on steroids.  They do everything those early Quads do but much, much better. Nothing taken away but a whole lot added. Essentially, I'm hoping, I suppose ESL 57 = Stax 202 whilst 10c = SR-009.  First the Sanders have bass, the sound stage is sensational (don't believe the 'head in vice', there's a fix for that) they are fast, detailed, go loud and 100% reliable.  They are naturally revealing in the treble, some might say bright, but then I'm 60, right.  10c's have a lifetime guarantee and they work in the high humidity here, which many ESL's simply won't.  The stators are coated glass (I think), they just don't arc.  Sorry, I have no affiliation with Sanders but he's a 100% reliable guy, will replace anything and replies in detail to every email, by return. 

 

I read recently something like "if your speakers present detail and dynamics like a decent pair of headphones, you are doing well".  I have the reverse, I haven't heard a headphone/amp that comes close to the 10c with active DSP.  I really, really want some.

 

Now a question for you, I've read your stuff and I like it: In your judgement, are the SR-009 just that good, to an ESL person, that I could buy them unheard according to the equation above?  Let me qualify that by saying that if it didn't work out, I'd sell them and put it down to experience (oh, and wouldn't blame you).

 

Man, I really need to listen to those speakers.  Thanks for the info.  

 

If you're an ESL guy I'm pretty confident you'll absolutely love the SR-009s.  They're the best headphone ever after the HE90 IMO.  The detail retrieval is unparalleled.  They're extremely fast and the imaging is very precise (like the SR007).  They have a large soundstage for headphones, but don't expect them to sound like speakers in that regard.  The one area I'd bet they outperform your speakers in is bass reproduction.  The speakers naturally use a woofer with crossover (transmission line design IIRC) which won't have the speed of an ESL diaphragm like that in the SR009.  Since the headphone drivers have such close proximity to the ear and the cavity between the ear and driver are sealed well by the leather earpads, you can get the resolution and cleanliness of ESL bass down past the audible spectrum.  

 

Have you considered buying a used set?  The SR009 is still quite new and I'd imagine most owners would take care of their sets, so pairs on the used market should be in near mint condition.  You would only lose (roughly) the cost of shipping if you decided to sell them.

post #19498 of 24765

I was a little frustrated I paid full price and then 2 sets popped up on the used market, but at least I have a warranty I suppose.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by n3rdling View Post

 

Man, I really need to listen to those speakers.  Thanks for the info.  

 

If you're an ESL guy I'm pretty confident you'll absolutely love the SR-009s.  They're the best headphone ever after the HE90 IMO.  The detail retrieval is unparalleled.  They're extremely fast and the imaging is very precise (like the SR007).  They have a large soundstage for headphones, but don't expect them to sound like speakers in that regard.  The one area I'd bet they outperform your speakers in is bass reproduction.  The speakers naturally use a woofer with crossover (transmission line design IIRC) which won't have the speed of an ESL diaphragm like that in the SR009.  Since the headphone drivers have such close proximity to the ear and the cavity between the ear and driver are sealed well by the leather earpads, you can get the resolution and cleanliness of ESL bass down past the audible spectrum.  

 

Have you considered buying a used set?  The SR009 is still quite new and I'd imagine most owners would take care of their sets, so pairs on the used market should be in near mint condition.  You would only lose (roughly) the cost of shipping if you decided to sell them.

post #19499 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post

 

That's the meter acting up.  If the cap was fubar then it would probably just read as a short so go ahead and install it.  Given that both the new and old cap for that position trip up the meter then it has to be at fault here. 

There must be something about that value of cap.  all my other caps tested fine.  even all the old ones from the amp.  I feel a little bad.  Mouser is sending me a new cap.  if that once acts the same, I'll just instal one of them.  better to be safe for me.

 

when I took out the old tapered diodes, they said 5 something on the underside.  interesting.  my new diodes all test at like 4 something.  OK then.  one more cap to instal, then set offset and balance, and I'm set.  looking forward to it.

post #19500 of 24765

I have experienced a bit of bad luck. Six hours into the burn in, just playing music through the system while the headphones were sitting on my desk the system died. Suddenly no sound from either driver only static. I shut down the system and disconnected the hp's. I shorted the pins with my finger to discharge the hp's. A few minutes later I reconnected everything and it played music but the left channel was down maybe 10-12db. I used the balance on the volume knob to get it balanced but it required too much movement and the left channel was distorting. I shut it down and came back to it hours later. This time it seemed ok but soon the volume in both channels was reduced and the channel imbalance returned. If I tapped on the left ear speaker I could hear it momentarily get loud for an instant then die. I boxed up the system and I will return it to the dealer today. A very long drive for me to resolve this. I do not have another Stax system to determine if it is the hp's or the amp at fault. I believe this is referred to as infant mortality.

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