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post #21931 of 24765

I would have thought the Lampi and MSB will be like chalk and cheese in terms of sound?

Totally different concepts, technologies and implementations.

 

I have heard the level 4 but I don't consider them very good value for money and can sound a little dull at times

Personally I prefer one of the Metrums like the Octave or Hex.  Much more direct and natural, but with great tonal colour and great bang for the buck, particularly now the Octave MKII is now available.

The EAR Yosino DAC is great sounding option too if you want tubes in the audio chain.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefQon View Post


Nice I've heard a level 4 before directly compared to a few other Big name and well known DAC's and the Polish Lampi destroys them in terms of sound. Depending on where I go whether or not I get a BHSE I do plan on a level 6 with a few other mods that I have gotten a quote on. The lampi is no looker but honestly I reckon it will sound on par or possibly even better than the $30k MSB dac.

Edited by complin - 4/21/13 at 4:47am
post #21932 of 24765
Never heard the MSB's but I preferred the l4 4/5 times of the 5 dacs compared in the same chain until it was on par with a Weiss Dac202 for some of the stuff I was listenimg to. Oh yeah there is quite a fair bit of people on diyaudio that have owned and the 30k MSB and think it is a joke sonically compared to amps much less expensive and sound quality aspects.
post #21933 of 24765
P.S hate typing on my phone.
post #21934 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

I did some measurement of my SR-007mk1 yesterday, wanted to compare against my previous 007mk2 (SZ3).
 
First, did measurement on urethane lined flat plate using EMC8000 mic, checked repeatability and it was bad (lack of seal), I had to get rid of 1 data set to get a reasonable average:

 

Then I thought some in-ear miniature mics I recently acquired would solve the seal issue and influence of poor mic centering. Well, turns out the SNR of these mics is plain terrible at LF and they are pair matched like - I shall not name the brand - headphone:

 

 

 
 
I then went on to remeasure my 009, the soft and large ear pad makes it much easier to get repeatable results on a plane baffle test:

 

 

I could check the consistency of the tests by comparing against measurements from august last year. Could be better, the response above 8kHz is quite sensitive to mic placement:

 

Last, I could compare the SR007mk1 (measured yesterday) to the SR007mk2(SZ3, measured last august):

 

 

Basically, the Omega 2 comparisons are not too useful. The issue with seal prevents to see the difference in design between the 2 itérations (mk2 being vented with a tendency to have boomy bass). The discrepancies at high-frequency might be just as much a test issue (mic centering) as actual phenomenon. Upon listening to the Omega 2 mk2 (SZ2) however, we certainly hear a bit of lively highs which make it appear more dynamic than the mk1 , at the expense of sounding somewhat hard at times.

For the 009, it's a totally different voicing but we can see the bass response being quite a bit more "linear" than the Omega 2 (again this may be just as much a test issue with sealing than an actual phenomenon - at least my mk1 don't sound boomy).

 

Probably the next step for me is to contact the tech support of the company of sent me these "high quality" in ear mics. They are useless as-is... But the baffle plate measurement are not much value either so really, I hope to get this on-head testing going (if I read reasonable quality mics, I would then calibrate the measurement using some personalized HRTFs).

 

Arnaud

 

 

Hello Arnaud, even without calibration, I find your measurements in "in-ear" (microphone placed directly in the ear canal of the ear + headphones directly placed on the head (without baffle plane) as a more realistic and representative what is seen "for real" with headphones, for two headphones studied (009 and 007mk1).
 
The bump in the low 007 between 50 and 70 Hz is obvious and detrimental to the readability of the low above and below (masking).
The extreme bass of 009 (below 40 Hz) is much larger than the 007, and that's the reality.
Finally, if we compare the average relative value between 3000 and 4000 Hz with the average between 300 and 400 Hz for these two headphones, we can see that the 009 has 4-5 dB relative level of more than 007 at 3 -4000 Hz and it makes a big difference in listening with the high midrange that seems much more clear (less veiled) compared to that of 007.
 
Eric

Edited by eric65 - 4/21/13 at 11:29am
post #21935 of 24765
I did some measurement of my SR-007mk1 yesterday, wanted to compare against my previous 007mk2 [...] basically, the Omega 2 comparisons are not too useful. The issue with seal prevents to see the difference in design between the 2 itérations (mk2 being vented with a tendency to have boomy bass). The discrepancies at high-frequency might be just as much a test issue (mic centering) as actual phenomenon

 

This might be a little off topic, but I think this highlights one of the biggest problems in headphone measuring. Every single tester has a different methodology and different equipment to test headphones, making it impossible to compare results from multiple sources and impossible to truly get a sense of how the measurements recorded relate to your own deviations from the average variables. I think it would be great if somebody could make a standardized set of relatively affordable equipment and a standard set of directions for taking the measurements.

post #21936 of 24765

Hello world, this is my first post!

 

I've just ordered my first Stax system from Japan. Can't wait to have it here with me. I have a couple of questions and would highly appreciate your input:

 

1. Since I'm in Europe (220V) I was wondering what would be the most elegant way of powering my brand new SRM-252S? Should I get one of these step down converters-transformers and deal with extra cables/boxes/adapters? Or would a generic 12V/4W adapter work as a replacement to the one that comes with the system? What should I look for when choosing an adapter?

 

2. I will be using Stax earspeakers in the studio with my Pro Tools HD system. Can I connect the energizer to the headphone out of an Avid HD Omni interface? I would very much prefer headphone out rather than line out (due to internal routing flexibility). Here's what it says in the manual: The HD OMNI Headphone output is set to power 600 Ohm headphones at +3 dBV. Would that work?

 

Any thoughts / advice would be highly appreciated.

Cheers!

post #21937 of 24765
Tus-chan, to be honest, there are some fairly standardized test protocols for headphones and hardware has been sold for decades (ear couplers / dummy heads) to make measurements. Regardless of what you might read from some self proclaimed experts, calibrated dummy heads (those used by the whole transportation industry car - rails - air) remain the most trustworthy device - at least for over ear phones. Combining such measurement with a quality head (and documenting all the gear used in the test) with strict repeatability tests (that's the killer as it takes some effort) should be as good as it gets.

For the matter of comparing results from different sites, you can ignore stuff that is not measured on a head as it basically cannot be objectively compensated for. The value then remains in terms of comparisons (as Eric mentioned with the 007 vs. 009 level differences in the midrange - a region where it's difficult to screw up the test). For dummy head measurements, the main source of discrepancies will be the compensation curve used (there are differences between free field and diffuse field HRTF of a single dummy head for instance). Each maker also has different artificial ear geometry and skin replica but they all come calibrated so it should have less influence than the choice of the compensation curve.

As for a testing procedure, from all I have seen, I trust Tyll's the most. He also has the merit of not oversmoothing the curves / plotting on a 2000dB scale which are the typical escape routes to a poor performing phone and/or testing method. Only thing I might add is to repeat the measurements 3-5 times for simply reseating the phone as he is currently also moving the phone up/down/front/back on the head to minimize mic placement effect but this creates seal issue for some gear. With a dummy head, you have a centering grid so you can make sure you're always centered.
post #21938 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

Tus-chan, to be honest, there are some fairly standardized test protocols for headphones and hardware has been sold for decades (ear couplers / dummy heads) to make measurements. Regardless of what you might read from some self proclaimed experts, calibrated dummy heads (those used by the whole transportation industry car - rails - air) remain the most trustworthy device - at least for over ear phones. Combining such measurement with a quality head (and documenting all the gear used in the test) with strict repeatability tests (that's the killer as it takes some effort) should be as good as it gets.

For the matter of comparing results from different sites, you can ignore stuff that is not measured on a head as it basically cannot be objectively compensated for. The value then remains in terms of comparisons (as Eric mentioned with the 007 vs. 009 level differences in the midrange - a region where it's difficult to screw up the test). For dummy head measurements, the main source of discrepancies will be the compensation curve used (there are differences between free field and diffuse field HRTF of a single dummy head for instance). Each maker also has different artificial ear geometry and skin replica but they all come calibrated so it should have less influence than the choice of the compensation curve.

As for a testing procedure, from all I have seen, I trust Tyll's the most. He also has the merit of not oversmoothing the curves / plotting on a 2000dB scale which are the typical escape routes to a poor performing phone and/or testing method. Only thing I might add is to repeat the measurements 3-5 times for simply reseating the phone as he is currently also moving the phone up/down/front/back on the head to minimize mic placement effect but this creates seal issue for some gear. With a dummy head, you have a centering grid so you can make sure you're always centered.

 

Yeah, one can read Tyll's measurements and readily compare between them. Tyll is the man.

 

Also of interest are Purin's waterfall plots-  http://www.head-fi.org/t/566929/headphone-csd-waterfall-plots

post #21939 of 24765
Here's my basically finished review of the Stax SR-407 (off my gaming guide)
Quote:

Stax SR-407

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 95

Sells for $575 (Headamp)
Review (Click to show)
Before I begin, I want to thank Justin at Headamp for loaning these out to me. If it weren't for Justin and Headamp, I don't think I would have become as interested in electrostatics as I am now. To drive the SR-407, I was also sent the Stax SRM-252S electrostatic amp (NOT the amp pictured above), which is also sold on Headamp for $495. The SR-407 is the very first electrostatic headphone I've demoed. I honestly did not know what to expect. Perhaps my assumption of 'stats in general was that they were mostly on the bright side with lots of air and detail, perhaps too analytical, sterile, and dry. I didn't read much into 'stats as they were a niche product in my eyes, being too situational, too expensive, and too picky with what you can use them with. They need their own specialized amps, unlike dynamic and planar magnetic headphones which work with most traditional devices. Electrostats just seemed too restrictive for my taste. I didn't like their looks (aside from the Sennheiser Orpheus, Stax Omega 007, and 009). I can honestly say that while they are indeed a bit restrictive, electrostatics are more than worth looking into.


Build Quality: The Stax SR-407's build quality isn't anything special. It has an extremely retro design, made of almost all brown plastic from what I can see. The cups are rectangular and aesthetically hideous to my eyes, but there is a charm to it's non-standard looks. The adjustment sliders are decent, and hold their place very well. I'd prefer a little more freedom in it's extension, but it fits me fine at full extension. The headband strap is absolutely the best part of the 407's build, the underside covered in extremely soft and comfortable suede-like material.

The earpads are made of brown pleather (I believe). There isn't a lot of surface contact area, so it's not horribly sweat inducing as other pleather-padded headphones. It could definitely stand to be thicker, though that may alter the amazing sound quality.

The cable is flat/ribbon-like and a very decent length. Seems to be tangle proof. It's a bit wide and strap like. I'm definitely a fan of this type of cable.


Comfort: The Stax-407 is passable in comfort. It's pretty lightweight, but the rectangular cup design will feel awkward at first. The 407 is lightweight. The pads don't have much contact with the skin, but it's pleather, and ultimately will induce sweat. As mentioned previously, the pads are a bit thin, and with a little force, you can feel the plastic housing so close to the skin.

The headband strap is soft, and perfectly forms to one's head shape. Quite possibly the most comfortable headband 'strap' I've ever felt. Literally no force felt on the top of my head. The clamping force is moderate. The 407 feels secure on my head. Not loose, not too tight.


Accessories: Bare essentials. Just the headphone.


Isolation/Leakage: It's an extremely open headphone, so don't expect any privacy in or out.


Sound: The sound? THE SOUND. If there was one word to describe the SR-407 (and I assume any 'stat worth their grain in salt), that word would be: EFFORTLESS. What I mean is that the 407 sounds like producing sound is the easiest thing to do in the world. It's almost problematic, because you can pump up the volume to louder than bearable levels, and it will happily sing with no perceivable distortion anywhere to be found. I found myself jamming out to music and realizing that it's a bit louder than I tend to listen to with other headphones. That's how clear, grain free, smooth, and effortless the sound quality is. This is indeed the first time I have felt that there is ZERO fault in the headphone if you ever hear distortions.

The 407 is a neutral sounding headphone. Quite linear, with lots of speed, texture, quick decay, air, and instrument separation in spades. There is basically NO harhness to be found despite it not being rolled off. I've heard smoother/darker headphones that can be harsh. I don't know how the 407 does it, but there just isn't any harshness to my ears, despite a bell like clarity. My only gripe I have with the sound signature is that it's slightly dry (coming off the velvety smooth, liquid, and full bodied LCD2), and mids while blended in perfectly well with the treble and bass, doesn't sound 'forward' so it doesn't bring immediate attention to itself. It's not the fullest sounding headphone either. More neutral than natural/organic, which is the planar magnetic's strength over electrostatics, from what I've read. Still, the 407 is not sterile or too analytical, keeping a great amount of musicality and enjoyment to it's sound.

On to the different aspects of sound.


Bass: I expected the bass to be weak and understated. While the sub bass is noticeably lacking in comparison to the LCD2, mid bass is tight, punchy and clearly present. I can listen to EDM or Hip Hop and jam with the 407. Not 'bassy' by any means, but the bass is nicely presented. It has more body and impact than the Q701, but not as much as the K702 Anniversary. I'd say it's basically neutral. However, if the source is bassy, these will surely please anyone not a pure basshead. It can be quite fun.


Mids: The mids are presented very, VERY cleanly, though they aren't forward or recessed. They are blended in with the bass and treble, not bringing a lot of attention to itself. If anything, it's not romanticized in any way. It's there, it's clean, and well balanced. Again, neutral. Does this mean that it's safe? Yes. Boring? Not at all. It sounds faithful to the source. Unlike something like the Sennheiser PC360 headset which is also well balanced, but lacking in energy. Energy is definitely not one thing the 407 is lacking.


Treble: The treble to me is the biggest strength in the 407. It's extremely clean sounding, yet completely grain free to my ears and no harshness. Even on sibilant tracks, I didn't feel any fatigue.This may sound like hyperbole, but this is definitely the best treble I've heard on any headphone. Sparkle and smoothness bundled in one, which isn't typically found on traditional headphones. No ringing, no harshness, no fatigue. You basically have to hear it for yourself to understand what I'm talking about.


Soundstage: My first taste of electrostatic soundstage. It's quite open and with plenty of space between sound cues, but it's a bit two dimensional and linear in comparison to the better dynamics and planar magnetics. So it has a very good soundstage size, but not the best depth. However, it still translates very well into gaming.


Positioning: The SR-407 performs very well for gaming in Dolby Headphone. The soundstage is a pretty decent size. Paired with the amazing clarity and slight dryness of the sound overall, sound cues come out very, very clearly. Soundstage depth isn't the best, but DH helps it out enough to make positional cues pretty strong.


Clarity: The 407 is easily one of the clearest headphones I have heard, if not the absolute clearest. Bass is quick, very textured, and tight. The mids are very well balanced and clean, though not forward in the same way the LCD2 and HD650's mids are. Treble, as mentioned earlier is the cleanest, most refined treble I've heard on any headphone to date. Smooth and sparkly at the same time, with zero grain, and no perceivable ringing to my ears. While other headphones like the K701 are emphasized for clarity, they can't compare to the overall refinement and effortlessness of the 407.


Amping: As stated, these demand an electrostatic amplifier. In terms of that, the SRM-252S is the cheapest 'desktop' 'stat amp in production, and to my ears drives the 407 just fine. I don't feel a lack of anything.


Value: Value is purely subjective, but I personally feel that for around $575 you get a headphone that stands toe to toe with the LCD2 (and exceeds it in certain areas like neutrality, and clarity). You do need to spend money on an electrostatic amp, the SRM-252S being nearly $500 itself. Considering the 407 is basically the same in sound as the more expensive SR-507 (with different pads and materials), which I've read as being on par with the HE-6 and HD800 (if not better) to certain people, this may be the best entry point into high-end audio for a price not in the realm of impossible.


Final Impressions: Call me an absolute believer of electrostatic headphones. So much refinement, clarity, and technical superiority over dynamics and arguably even planar magnetics. The Stax SR-407 makes a very compelling case for itself as the perfect starting point into electrostatic headphones (and possibly end). It's not perfect, with a slight dryness to the sound, wonky design, mediocre build quality, and okay comfort, but it's sound quality more than makes up for these shortcomings. For gaming, it's one of the better all-rounders on the guide, without question.

Final Scores...

Fun: 8 (Great. Though it's not as immersive as the K702 Anniversary or the more bass-oriented headphones on the guide, the 407 has it's own special sound that is fun in it's own way. Bass is very good for a neutral headphone, lagging a little behind the K702 Anniversary, but having more energy and presence than the Q701, and having a nice, fun amount of bass when it's called for.)

Competitive: 8.75 (Very Great. Though the soundstage depth isn't the best, the clarity and virtual space is so clean, it makes for a very solid and competitive gaming headphone.)

Comfort: 6.5 (Decent. It's not the most comfortable headphone, but not atrocious by any means. No pressure on top of the head is a large plus.)
post #21940 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by vytis View Post

Hello world, this is my first post!

 

I've just ordered my first Stax system from Japan. Can't wait to have it here with me. I have a couple of questions and would highly appreciate your input:

 

1. Since I'm in Europe (220V) I was wondering what would be the most elegant way of powering my brand new SRM-252S? Should I get one of these step down converters-transformers and deal with extra cables/boxes/adapters? Or would a generic 12V/4W adapter work as a replacement to the one that comes with the system? What should I look for when choosing an adapter?

 

 

You just need a 12VDC/1000ma adapter and they are used on a lot of stuff these days.  The problem though is that 99.9995% of them have the center pin positive but Stax has the center pin as negative.  Easy enough to change by changing the plug or just cutting the wire and crossing the wires. 

post #21941 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post

 

You just need a 12VDC/1000ma adapter and they are used on a lot of stuff these days.  The problem though is that 99.9995% of them have the center pin positive but Stax has the center pin as negative.  Easy enough to change by changing the plug or just cutting the wire and crossing the wires. 

Fantastic! Just the information I was looking for. Thanks! I really appreciate it. 

post #21942 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by vytis View Post

 

2. I will be using Stax earspeakers in the studio with my Pro Tools HD system. Can I connect the energizer to the headphone out of an Avid HD Omni interface? I would very much prefer headphone out rather than line out (due to internal routing flexibility). Here's what it says in the manual: The HD OMNI Headphone output is set to power 600 Ohm headphones at +3 dBV. Would that work?

 

Any thoughts / advice would be highly appreciated.

Cheers!

  It will probably work in the sense that you will get sound out.  It might be sonically off because the Stax amps are designed ofr a line level signal.

post #21943 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by edstrelow View Post

  It will probably work in the sense that you will get sound out.  It might be sonically off because the Stax amps are designed ofr a line level signal.

Sure. I'll have to experiment with it myself and do some comparisons. Just wanted to make sure that I won't damage the Stax system by feeding it a headphone-level signal. Thanks.

post #21944 of 24765
Quote:
Originally Posted by edstrelow View Post

  It will probably work in the sense that you will get sound out.  It might be sonically off because the Stax amps are designed ofr a line level signal.

 

I call shenanigans.

 

Driving from a headphone out is no different to driving from an active preamp. You can easily set the output to line-level-equivalent voltages with the preamp/headphone volume control; the only difference being higher current capability from the preamp/headphone to drive low impedance loads.

post #21945 of 24765

Thanks for the review of the 407 MLE.  I have been interested in these the past couple of months, nice to read your thoughts on it. 

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