okay. i'll throw out some initial impressions. but bear in mind a few things. i was told that the headphones need 50-100 hours of break in (mine have about 8). i have little experience with electrostatic headphones. i have listened to the HE60, HE90, and O2 as well as various other stax headphones on a few occasions but always at meets. i have a general idea about what they do and how they sound, but i have never owned a pair myself. also, i am using what is probably considered not an ideal setup. i have a prototype solid state amp, the quality of which i am unclear of and which also has no burn in. the amp is set for 240 volts, so i am using a 500W voltage converter with the amp and the voltage converter has a european plug, so connected to that is a euro to u.s. adapter. add to that new RCA cables (nordost heimdalls) and a silver power cord (aural thrills), both of which have little break in and may be too clinical for this setup as well.
as for the construction, the EH-1.3 is very light and b/c it is almost all wood, i would be scared to drop it from any height. but the build quality actually seems fairly decent. as mentioned, the cups and outer frame are solid wood and the head band, top and lower portions, as well as the earpads are genuine leather. the ribbon cable is very flexible and of good length. i could not imagine it breaking or fraying. the cable is terminated with a quality silver neutrik (or neutrik looking) 5 pin plug. the only point of concern with the cable is where it connects to the left and right cups. i think a sharp pull here would not be a good idea. also included is an adapter, which i assume allows the headphone to operate on stax amps or amps with a stax plug. but since i am using a he audio amp, i connect the headphones directly to it without the adapter. the carrying case is very nice looking and sturdy - all hard plastic and metal. as for looks of the headphone, i agree that the 1.2 version, modelled closely on the HE90, looks nicer. but i'll get used to this look. although the headphone is very light and feels less than substantial, it has as nice snug fit on the head as there is some clamping force to the headphones and the cups swivel for additional fit. the headphone is very comfortable too. could easily wear it for a few hours straight.
as for sound, my initial impressions are the following. the bass is very good. not only quality but quantity. there is depth to the bass and it has good force. i would say it is easily on par with the HD650, but not as good as the L3000, which is the best bass i have heard from a headphone. no other headphone has the slam of the L3000. my general complaint with most lower end stax models (at least what i have heard) is they tend to sound a bit thin and slightly unmusical. the EH-1.3 has very good rhythm and a quick pace. it has some body to it as well but definitely not the rich, layered texture of the 650, which is something i find unique to that headphone.
the sound is forward. almost like a grado. you seem to be in the first row or close to it. the soundstage is average. not bad but not spacious. no where on K501/701 level. however, the left to right presentation is very good. very wide, like an HP1. it can place an instrument or sound effect a few feet to one side or throw it some several feet away. imagine sitting in the first few rows of a stage where the stage is long (left to right) but not deep. that is what the presentation seems to be like. there is also height. just the overall depth seems limited.
the instrument separation is also as good or better than any of my dynamic headphones (balanced or single ended). voices have great articulation. you can hear clearly the syllables of the words being pronounced and sung. closely related is detail. the detail is very good but strangely not always sharp. on some tracks, there seems to be a somewhat echo feel to voices. there is also a bit of brightness to everything, esp of some female vocals where the highs go high. this is possibly due to the newness of the headphone and amp and nordost (speed of light) cables and silver power cord. may experiment with some copper at a later point.
percussion and cymbals and electronics (and voices) sound very good on this headphone. as mentioned, the bass is surprisingly very good. the headphone also seems very fast. violin is so quick on this thing. not a note is missed. it has great attack one would say. but i'm so sure how good the decay is. the headphone does not want to slow down. on acoustic guitar and piano there is little resonance after the chord or key is struck. acoustic sounds better on my grados and piano may be a weak point. i actually purchased the EH-1.3 for classical. the violin pieces and works for solo voice i listened to sounded very good, but i'm not sure they sounded any better than my balanced K701 - my main classical phone at the moment. i somehow had it in my mind that stats were ideally suited for that genre. but my initial impression is that the EH-1.3 may turn out to be an electrostatic rock headphone - and a very good one i might add.
that's it for now.