Wow, who would have thought that being on holiday could be so busy. I won't be able to write anything big and extensive, and in addition although I've had my Stax gear for the past 20 months, I'd hardly call myself a advanced Head-Fier (which is why I'm usually quiet in the high end threads but write more in the portable stuff). So please pardon my unprofessional and "junior" thoughts in high end gear.
As with some Tokyo HF Stax members here, I've been mostly satisfied with my SRM-727A not having heard any 3rd party Stax amps until the past 2 months. With a big thanks to Alex Cavalli and Amos/Currawong who organised the loaner Japan tour of the Liquid Lightning Mk2 we managed to hear our SR-009s and SR-007Mk1/Mk2s through a non-Stax-made amp for the first time last month. Soon after I saw an opportunity to jump onto Radio_Head's Eddie Current Electra deal, which was much more within my budget, and jumped on it.
Test environment as follows :-
- iMac with Audirvana Plus
- Invicta v1.0
- Unbalanced out to a switch
- Unbalanced out from switch to :-
b) Liquid Lightning Mk2 (hereafter LL2)
c) Electra with OEMed Mullard XF2 drivers, Electro Harmonix 6SN7 2nd stage, & Tung Sol 6SN7 input stage
[Note 1: My thoughts, will leave my colleagues state theirs, should they choose to do so]
[Note 2: Following are with the SR-009]
My trusty 727A was sadly quite easily ruled out early in the game as it was slow by comparison to the other two (and I thought the 727A was fast compared to the 007tA, when I bought the 727A last year!). Both the LL2 and Electra were more engaging and exciting to listen to compared to the 727A.
As for the LL2 and the Electra, it gets a little more interesting. Personally for me I felt the LL2 sounded more spacious than the Electra but also a few rows back from the front stage whereas the Electra was somewhat more intimate and closer to the stage. Difference in vocal presentation between the two was quite noticeable where the Electra sounded more a personal intimate presentation whilst the LL2 was more "distant". However in terms of instrument placement the Electra seemed to have stood out in determining how far back the different instruments are from the the listener. The imaging of depth felt more distinguishable with the Electra.
With some of the more modern Hiphop & R&B, the LL2 seemed to have hit the bass a little lower than the Electra however there was a strange peculiar abruptness to the decay of the LL2 in comparison to both the Electra and 727A. For one particular track brought by another member in this meet, the electronically produced bass tone in the music track which sounded abrupt and staccato was the thought that came to my mind whilst the other two had a more "normal' decay. At least for me, being a rookie to the high end world, this wasn't too big of a deal 'cos with most of the tracks I listen to it's just merely a difference in presentation between one amp and another. Possibly with my lack of experience but I don't see it as a "wrong" presentation and think of it more as a "different" alternative presentation.
[Edit: A possibility was raised if the LL2 may have had a fault that'll cause the peculiar bass presentation. As the LL2 has been sent back to the maker, it'll be tested]
As for the highs, I must say that right now nothing off the top of my head has stood out for either amp. Both to me had a decent extension (possibly the Electra a little more than the LL2 but then I'd personally consider the LL2 to be somewhat warmer amp than the Electra anyway). Both were also quite airy and articulate in detail in their treble presentation.
[Note 3: For the SR-007Mk1]
With the SR-007Mk1 I personally felt the Electra was able to test its scalability rather well. I felt the improvement from the 727A to the Electra with this amp was actually a larger step up than with the SR-009. On the other hand, the SR-007Mk1 with the LL2 didn't sit too well with me. It somewhat slow and it didn't do much for me. It let me (incorrectly) speculate if the LL2 was tuned with the SR-009 in mind but in conversations with Alex Cavalli, that wasn't the case.
With the LL2 and scaling from the 727A, I personally felt it was the opposite to the Electra where the SR-009 scaled better than with the SR-007Mk1.
[Personal Conclusion for now]
I'm happy with the Electra for the moment as for the two Stax headphones I own, it's a somewhat more versatile amp. Also with the price difference of the two, I hope to use the "savings" to "tweak" the Electra with some tube rolling, especially with some PSVane tubes.
Hopefully in the next few months another Tokyo HF member may have another Stax amp to compare against.