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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (3/18/2016: MrSpeakers Ether C 1.1 Added) - Page 880

post #13186 of 37382
Thread Starter 
So, I went ahead and posted the review anyways. Lol.

I'm not sure when the ESP 950 will arrive, but if it's tomorrow, I may have a chance to A/B. Still, I've kept the SR-407 a day too long for the review (asked Justin).



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.)
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/22/13 at 10:11am
post #13187 of 37382
Thread Starter 
BTW guys:



http://www.amazon.com/Force-Wireless-Digital-Headphone-Surround/dp/B008L1Y7QS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1366651426&sr=8-2&keywords=x41

The X41's decoder box DOES allow for other headphone use. Getting the refurb is worth it for that ALONE.

So basically a DH amp with a free wireless headset for $70. No chat for PS3 though).

That's an awesome price.

Anyone care to be a guinea pig for this, and tell us if the DH amp is hissy or not with external headphones?
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/22/13 at 10:29am
post #13188 of 37382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

BTW guys:


The X41's decoder box DOES allow for other headphone use. Getting the refurb is worth it for that ALONE.

So basically a DH amp with a free wireless headset for $70. No chat for PS3 though).

Anyone care to be a guinea pig for this, and tell us if the DH amp is hissy or not with external headphones?

 

 

Does it even support chat for Xbox?  All I see is a single 3.5mm jack...

 

It's a good price, but the DSS is only $30 off ebay...

post #13189 of 37382
Thread Starter 
It's a headset made for the 360, so I would believe so. I'm sure chat functions are on the headset itself, with 2.5mm cable going from the headset to the controller. That includes the voice/game balance, in the same way as the Plyr 1 and A50s.

edit: The voice/game balancing is on a cable that connects between the X41 and xbox controller. So not fully wireless if you use chat.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/22/13 at 10:45am
post #13190 of 37382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

It's a headset made for the 360, so I would believe so. I'm sure chat functions are on the headset itself, with 2.5mm cable going from the headset to the controller. That includes the voice/game balance, in the same way as the Plyr 1 and A50s.

 

Oh, I meant for third party headsets/headphones, like PC360 or heapdhones + mic.  I know the stock headset works with Xbox.

 

It does looks like chat is done solely through the headset.  So if your wanting to use third party chat you still need to go with a mixamp.

 

If you're buying strictly for the decoder box to use with other headphones (and won't be using the "free" Turtle Beach headset thrown in) the DSS is still a nicer deal. 

 

 


Edited by chicolom - 4/22/13 at 10:52am
post #13191 of 37382
Thread Starter 
Oh, lol. Definitely. I didn't expect it to be a cheaper Mixamp alternative. I expected it to be a less hissy DSS alternative, though not sure how hissy the X41's box is.
post #13192 of 37382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I expected it to be a less hissy DSS alternative, though not sure how hissy the X41's box is.

 

Gotcha. 

 

I would be surprised if the X41 box (wired connection) had less hiss than the DSS though.

 

This is Turtle Beach we're talking about.

post #13193 of 37382
Thread Starter 
Truuuue.

I'm assuming it's the same chip/amp circuit on the DSS as the X41's decoder.
post #13194 of 37382
Good SR-407 review. It's always amusing to me to see people surprised at the bass that an electrostatic can do, and if the 407 is anything like the 404 I used to have, it's actually quite bass-light compared to most 'stats. The SR-007 can put out some real bass. And yes, the effortlessness is one thing you will immediately notice, and over time, start to need. There is a certain grain to dynamic headphones that is generally the reason why I don't listen to dynamics anymore. The dryness and slight thinness generally seems to be a characteristic of the later Lambda-style phones, the SR-007, SR-001, and SR-X Mk3 Pro don't suffer from it.

Now that I'm gaming again and using the SR-007 I've gotten more accusations of wallhacking than I've had in all my years prior, so I guess electrostatics can do positioning right. So right, in fact, that positional mistakes in the game's sound engine sound unrealistic and still throw me off at times. The lack of harshness is also great for extended gaming sessions, where you experience no ear fatigue or ringing even after playing for 8 hours provided that you keep the volume down. And that, on 'stats, can be hard to do. Stax used to give people a leaflet with a warning label exactly for this reason.

I think you'll like the ESP950 too, just find - or make - an adapter for it to use with your Stax amp. The stock amp is hardly doing it any favors.
post #13195 of 37382
Thread Starter 
Well, I don't have any. These were on loan, lol.

I'd kill for the 007... I want it, but I could only afford, say a 323S to power it. By then, I wouldn't be able to get the 007. XD
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/22/13 at 1:37pm
post #13196 of 37382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post


I'd kill for the 007...
Ironically, 007 has a license to kill...
post #13197 of 37382
Thread Starter 
post #13198 of 37382

Ok so I just got the PC360 headset, and right now I'm not very impressed... but I think I need some advice on setting it all up...

 

The PC360s have 2x 3.5mm jacks (mic + headphone) and I plugged them both in the front panel analog inputs (mic + headphone). In my XONAR DX soundcard panel, I have tried these 2 setups:

 

8 channel + Dolby Headphone Enabled (and the directionnal cues are perfect, but somehow the sound quality seems diminished... feels like being inside a can... the trebles are not as clean as when I'm only using 8 channels and Dolby Headphone is off)

 

I aslo tried 8 channel only... Sound quatity is top of the line, but there isnt much difference between sounds cues that are coming from the front vs the back...

 

I also tried 8 channels + Dolby Headphone + 7.1 shifter... Directionnal cues are even clearer than when I was just using 8 ch + dolby headphone... but the sound quality is even worst...

 

When I was using the a50s with a optical cable running from the soundcard to the TX amp (with 8 ch + 5.1 speaker setup on the XONAR panel) everything sounded better than all of these setups...

 

Have I missed something ? Should my headset be plugged straight to the back of the XONAR soundcard instead of the front panel? (because if I do Im not sure I'll be able to plug  in the mic right?)
 

EDIT: I read a lot about how the Xonar DX doesn't have a built-in AMP... Is it important that I get an external AMP for the PC360 to get better sound quality or should the XONAR DX suffice? Since I'll probably be gaming on consoles at some point (with the PC 360) I guess buyin an astro mix amp would be a good idea right?


Edited by jonathan1107 - 4/23/13 at 11:20am
post #13199 of 37382
Thread Starter 
So it seems me and Alienware just aren't meant to be:

Excuse the mess, I was tossing things around just to show my problem.
post #13200 of 37382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

So it seems me and Alienware just aren't meant to be:

 

That sucks.

 

I'm not surprised that just replacing the laptop didn't fix what the first one was doing.

 

Googling says that other people have had the problem and you probably have to play with around with drivers/settings to fix it.

Have you tried setting  "HDMI input" as the default recording device?  You might have to go into properties and say "listen to this device".

 

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