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Stax SR-404 Limited. Which amp? - Page 3

post #31 of 50
Here is the Stax pinout:

post #32 of 50
post #33 of 50
Originally Posted by JecklinStax
mind you: I was used to the balance of the Jecklin, which is rolled-off in the highs
I disagree about the highs being rolled off on the 'stat Floats, and I'm usually the first to call a headphone out on having a rolled off treble. I do agree about the bass being a little loose, but sometimes some rumble ain't a bad feeling to have. I will definitely try some bitumen/plasticine for the frame, since I know the frame is the weak point of the headphones.

Yeah, I'm considering buying the 404LE, which is why I was viewing this thread.
post #34 of 50
No one is suggesting a used 717? I use one with my old 404s and I think the combo is perfect. Am I going to get flamed?
post #35 of 50
I use both an SRM-717 and SRM-007tA with my SR-404 Limited with great enjoyment. If I were buying a new amp today, I would consider the matching SRM-600 Limited:

post #36 of 50
It was a great match with the SRM-T2...
post #37 of 50
Hi folks,

Does anyone know if it's possible to just buy the new tweaked Stax cables for use with the Signatures? I'm thinking this upgrade would offer a bigger bang for buck, rather than forking out for the whole over-priced package. Of course, I have an idea that this would be a reason Stax would choose not to sell them seperately... In fact, just generally, I would think repacement cables would help, seeing how constant use/flexing they suffer must cause SQ to suffer over time?
BTW Re upgrades: any thoughts on the energiser Kimik upgrades (only available in the UK?) offered by several UK Stax dealers? I had my SRM-007t modded/fitted with the Kimik valves and been v happy with the results over my previous 006t, but was never able to hear the unmodded 007t, seeing as I bought it with the mod already having been made.
post #38 of 50
The major tweak in the SR-404LE is inside the drivers plus the new earpads and not the cable. Swapping cables on Stax phones makes a minimal difference at best.

I've never heard a Kimik amp but I know the circuit well and I really can't see how they could offer much improvement without some serious work on the amp. Replace the simple PSU's with a fully regulated units and dispose of those crappy 6CG7's once and for all would be my first course of action. Most of the stock amp would be discarded though so not really possible to do but some better tubes aren't worth what they are charging. Anybody can put in some well matched tubes and bias the amp down to 0v.
post #39 of 50
OK, thank for this- I have only read a few other posts on the forum re this, which all seemed to point to the new cable as being the biggest part of the upgrade and didn't mention much else except re improved earpads. This was possibly just the easiest way to sum up the upgrade, I guess. So- good to hear that there has been a 'real' upgrade, as upgrading the cable alone was a fancy of mine, but I'd be even keener to go for a whole new package, if the changes made were worthwhile (though, you didn't mention if the major tweak to the internals equals a major performance improvement- i'd hope it would!).
One thing though- connected to my previously-mentioned query re cable age affecting performance: I had a look on the Stax website where this issue is mentioned (see SR-404 Limited page) and Stax suggest that, although the cables are designed to allow for flexing in their cables, over time you can expect internal breakage of the conductrs, to some extent (due to "extremely high flexing frequency during use" as Stax say). This makes sense to me, as I can't imagine even the most cleverly designed copper conductor-type cables not suffering from these effects, especially if used regularly or/and over several years. The worst scenario, I'd expect, being shorting of the cables? Having had other voltage-conducting cables short in the past (although, I have to say, these had been trodden on) I am concerned to avoid this now. Stax's literature seems not to be focussing on the cable change in terms of solely a sound quality upgrade, but really more an upgrade for cable longevity, for the above reasons, which it would seem they attach a higher priority to. Of course, I'm not sure of how much of an actual SQ upgrade that the internal driver mod has to offer, but really I feel the real advantage might be from the re-assurance in knowing that the new cables could withstand the rigours of flexing with less damage/decline in SQ years down the line, and also that my old Signatures must generally be sounding a bit tired now anyway- drivers as well as cables- so the new pair would surely have to sound considerably better anyway.
One thing's for sure though- from what you say re the Kimik upgrade, any replacement headphones would have to be a more worthwhile upgrade exercise than going with Kimik! I guess, from what you say, there's not really much room for improving the amp- which seems sad, seeing as I have the Omega 2s, as well as the SR404s, so maybe I'm missing out more than I know. I feel sure some helpful bod might point me towards a few (or possibly there's many?!) better performing amps for this kit...
post #40 of 50
The conductors are very thick for the given role so while I'm sure there will be stress over the years, it should be minimal. Some Stax cables have a reputation for failing completely (most notably the SR-007 Mk1 cable and the Gamma cables) but there are mechanical reasons for that.

As for better amps, you could always get a BHSE from Headamp, a Woo WES or try and find the mighty rare Stax SRM-T2 beast. If you are handy at DIY you could even build an amp such as a Blue Hawaii or a KGSS with the boards available from Headamp.com. I'm working on a number of different amps (way too many actually ) but I just finished a Blue Hawaii over the weekend and it sounds just lovely.
post #41 of 50
Yes, but another thing I was asking was re the possible damage to the headphones themselves due to regular use. This seems evident to me, seeing as I have acquired my SR-404's and Omega 2's at the same time (quite a few years ago), but only used the Omegas for a fraction of the time that the SR-404's were in use and have noticed that SQ is noticeably less than it was originally for the new SR-404's: wheras the Omega's still sound as good as ever. Surely, it stands to reason that the delicate ESL panels would degrade over time/there is even a possibility of minor damage that isn't immediately detectable? I guess a number of other factors also enter into this: type and volume of the music played and whether the units suffer and knocks whilst being handled, but if the units are generally treated with the respect that any high quality kit warrants, than these issues would have to be minimal. It occurs to me it would be the best thing for the units to be sent of for a check over. However, I'm not sure if you would value the opinion of the person carrying out the work, as this is the UK Stax engineer, who also happens to be the one doing the Kimik upgrades!
post #42 of 50
Large electrostatic panels do decline with age but I haven't found that to be the case with Stax phones. I've had dozens upon dozens of Lambda sets and all within the same type sound the same i.e. a Lambda Pro made in 1982 sounded the same as a set made in 1990. Same can be said about the 60's SR-1's that I've tried. All comparisons were made after giving the phones a good once over which almost always involved replacing the earpads.

Now if you are a smoker then that is a good way to utterly destroy the headphones in a short period of time.
post #43 of 50
You seem to be familiar with the full size ESLs also- I have two pairs of full size speakers, so just presumed problems with them would have to apply to smaller designs. I'm glad this shouldn't be a problem, however, the problems I mentioned must then be attributed to just damage by a different means- so probably still worth having them the once over. It sounds like you agree with this as a precaution with your phones, so hope you could advise what to look out for? Would you recommend this as something I could tackle (taking my time), or do you think the Kimik chap is up to it?
BTW I'm not a smoker fortunately- quite the opposite, but it so happens this might meen another habit I have could cause the phones problems. This is due to me jogging on a treadmill while wearing the phones. My ears are left a little sweaty whilst doing this, but I'm not sure if the extra pirspiration could get inside the phones? Now, one of the full size speakers I mention above is made by an Indian manufacturer who design their ESLs to be very tolerant to the semi-tropical/humid environment where the speakers are commonly to be used (there are no special protective layers over the ESLs I should mention though). I'm curious if Stax might have also took this into consideration, or if this precaution might mean having to compromise on the design in some way? I know that Quad speakers are famously fussy about the climate they're used in, but then they're very British...
post #44 of 50
There isn't much you can do to a Lambda driver besides replacing it. They are all sealed with glue and trust me on this, it isn't easy to get them back together if you do open them up. Now changing the earpads would be a good idea and while it takes a few hours, is something anybody can do. While the Stax engineer in the UK has some commercial interests I'm sure he can do his job and look over the phones for you.

I've read a bit about what Cadence are doing with their drivers and it could be similar to what Sound Lab in the US is doing, extra insulation on the panels or simply lowering the bias voltage a bit. The Stax bias voltage is low compared to the diaphragm/stator spacing so they will work well in high humidity areas but sweat can always be a problem. The driver are sealed on both sides but nothing is perfect and the copper in the stators has been know to cause condensation in shipping so that is something to look into.

As for the speakers aging, there are a number of factors that contribute to that. Overdriving the panels and exposing them to direct sunlight are the problem areas and they will also destroy Stax phones. Other then that there isn't much to worry about. Mylar is very, very strong and if properly heat treated will last for decades.
post #45 of 50
Yet another reply. It's a bit off topic but if you have an interest in Cadence, this link shows where their ESL technology has best been applied:

6moons industryfeatures: Siltech's Pantheon 25

This is pretty impressive kit! Of course, I'm not fortunate to have a pair of these. What I have is a pair of Cadence's older ES hybrids. However, I happen to have had their ESLs 're-foiled' (sent the panels back to the factory in India!) and this meant that the returned panels could take advantage of the new coating used on the Siltechs. My old panels had gotten considerably quieter and sounded a bit muffled over the years (hence my concern for my SR-404's). What I'm wondering though is if you might know of/rate the new Teflon and Indium Oxide coating- especially as this is supposed to extend the longevity of the panels (to keep up a consistent good standard also) much more than the previous ones. Anyway they certainly sound impressive now (only problem that's come about though, is that they are now so obviously classier than the bass units/poorer integration, the difference has become almost embarrasing, so kind of limits you to certain music). You obviously seem very taken by Stax's heat-treated mylar material but havn't mentioned re any coatings on this that could improve SQ/longevity. Although perhaps these type of coatings are only really appropriate with larger surfacer area type designs/designs that play louder and Stax has always gotten all it needs just with the Mylar without needing to experiment? Although, what I have noticed is that they seem fond of varying the thicknesses of this material.
Anyway, all this talk of ESL technology is making me definately consider upgrading to the Limiteds!
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