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Stax Production

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hallo! I'm new here and I'm usually active within a German forum but I have a special question nobody was able to answer there, so I'll have to torture you ;-)

I've just sold my beloved Sennheiser HE60/HEV70 and looking for a replacement. I thought about the Sennheiser HD 800, the Beyerdynamic T 1 or staying with electrostats and import a Stax Omega from Japan (they're twice as expensive in Germany!).
One dealer tried to convince me to stay with Stax and showed me his 3050-set, I liked the comfort and it sounded very well, too. I knew from pictures that they're ugly as hell - but I can't see them on my head anyway...
But I was shocked by the build-quality. I'm a mechanical engineer and this is definitely not the standard you would expect from a 2k$-japanese-product! Judging from pictures, the Omega and 4060 look more rugged and better build!?

But many people have their Stax since 10-20 years and are happy with them, but then I found out that Stax went bankrupt in 1995/1996 and some engineers relocated the company and some legendary products were stopped (SRM-T2). Has the company itself changed? Maybe the plastic components were once of better quality but due to cost-restriction their production was off-shored or the manufacturing tools weren't replaced/maintained properly?

It's a lot of money I'm spending here and I'm afraid that I might make the wrong choice and investing into a legendary brand name withouth legendary püroduction/quality standards...
I' ve worked for a similar-sized hifi-company for a few months and I was shocked by their "production standards" despite their equally legendary image.

I will carefully compare the mentioned headphones, listen to them, so I'm more interested into the things I cannot see or hear...

Long story short:

Is there any information available (japanese links?) which shows production (or any other kind of "background" information) of Stax? I only found an old hifi-choice-article from 1991.

Thanks in advance
post #2 of 11
Welcome Georgl. One bit of history is here though that link is more useful for the model overviews. I wouldn't worry about the build quality of Lambdas. Sure they aren't the most robust headphones in the world, but in most cases, the ear pads and foam wear out long before anything else does, unless you abuse them.

There are two huge Stax threads, one a continuation of the other, on here, in the high-end forum. There's quite a big trade in second-hand Stax, especially as the MKI Omega 2s are preferred over the current MKII/A versions. As well, there are a number of non-Stax amps from Woo, Headamp and others that are reputedly much better than the Stax offerings. Unfortunately I can't answer your question about production information better, but I can say that Omega 2s and the 4070 are quite robustly built and to a very high standard from what I've seen.
post #3 of 11
The plastic used in the current Lambda series is the same as was used in the Nova series which predates it and the bankruptcy. Stax made a lot of other products plus headphones but like Quad, they only made any money on a part of their product line. Stax always did well with the headphones but monster Class A amps, 2m tall electrostatic speakers, one of the most expensive DAC's in the world and yes, the SRM-T2 were simply not cost effective so they were all dropped in favor of the headphone line.

As for the headphones, the build quality of the SR-007 and 4070 is quite a bit higher then the Lambdas but a Lambda will easily last 30 years if it isn't abused. The arc's can break and so can the cables but under normal use they will be just fine. You should know though that the 323 amp is probably going to be out of production soon in favor for the 353 which is shaped as a headphone stand.
post #4 of 11
As Spritzer point out, the build quality of the O2 and 4070 is top notch. I was not a fan of the plasticky looking Lambda Series but recently bought a pair of 404LE and for the $700, thought they were very well built and that the plastic has good quality and didn't look cheap. The mould for the plastic headband could have been better but I am very picky. I also have an SR-001 system and for the $400 retail for this product, I am amazed with what you get for both inside and out.

If you go for a nice upper end STAX, you will not be disappointed.
post #5 of 11
I used to own Lambda Pros made in 1991-92 and now have SR-404. The quality is pretty much identical, perhaps the SR-404s are a little better made.
post #6 of 11
The build quality of the Lambda series headphones is not up there with the O2 and the 4070. But still with all that plastic they should last a long time when handled carefully.
There are many pairs around here still going strong after 30 years...

Welcome to Head-Fi!
post #7 of 11
Back in the day when I ran all over auditioning speakers (including Magnepans, and Quads) - I always determined I'd miss the dynamics/punch/impact of dynamic drivers. Felt such speakers were great some some particular niches eg. Chamber Music..........so never explored Stax. Today I'm liking Grado HF2 drivers in a custom open Beyer housing.
If I were go the other way - it would be to find a pair of HE90 with a non-Senn. amp.........or possibly the previously mentioned Omega 2 MkI w/ latest version of Blue Hawaii.

BTW - welcome Georgi
post #8 of 11
The bankruptcy followed Stax attempts to follow typical accountants advice - diversify into the higher end. The products they made were in most cases revolutionary and beautifully constructed, but all were outrageously expensive and couldn't have made anything but a loss. If they had stuck to headphone related stuff only, I suspect the original company would still be here. The plastic in the headphones may look cheap, but it lasts very well (30 years and counting for the Stax Sigma) and is quite sturdy. Not needlessly over the top is what I'd call the finish of the Lambda series.
Consider some of their products:
- Electrostatic/condensor phono cartridge (CPY/ECP-1) with its own battery operated power supply and equaliser.
- Several enormous amplifiers - check out the DMA-X1 - did that one ever take the cake - talk about an arc welder
- OTT valve output DAC (actually had 2 power cords for real dual mono operation - the DAC-X1T)
- Battery powered bias for huge electrostatic speakers (the ELS-8XBB)
- An OTT valve based headphone amp that typically cost about 10x what the previous Stax TOTL headphone amp was worth.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by John Buchanan View Post
- OTT valve output DAC (actually had 2 power cords for real dual mono operation - the DAC-X1T)
There were actually 3 IEC inputs under the DAC, one for digital and two for each of the analogue output sections.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I'll try to compare the Omega and HD800 tomorrow, when the HD800 performs well, I don't have to think about Stax anyway, but if I prefer the Omega, I will propably take the risk and import it, hoping that this flagship still is made to high-quality-standards.

But if anybody finds any background-info on Stax, I'm still interested!

I've seen it with other companies, they failed with high-quality and a new management went the other extreme with the old name...

Sennheiser wasn't even on my list, after all the consumer-crap they're offering at electronic-dealers. But the HD800 really seems to be seen as a professional product (like their world-class mics including Neumann) they take seriously - made by good suppliers and their own craftsmen.
Sadly, the T1 was postponed to December, but fit&finish was on par with the HD800 (and I prefer their use of metal).
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post
There were actually 3 IEC inputs under the DAC, one for digital and two for each of the analogue output sections.
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