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Question about amps for the Stax SR-009 - Page 37

post #541 of 874

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 :-

  a) SRM-727A

  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.

post #542 of 874

Hi David

I've just read through this thread and note you seem to be the only UK contributor.

I'm keen to listen to the Stax Sr-009 with the Blue Hawaii (or any other Amp)

Is there any chance of listening to yours?

Thanks

David

post #543 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

 

[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.

 

 

Nice write-up. Stuff like this is always welcomed imo and generally not enough of. Some of your findings seem to chime with what MH said on another thread. The LL doesn't seem too ace in the lower part of the spectrum.

 

It is interesting reading about the soundstage of the Electra. Being a tube amp I would've been expecting to be top as soundstaging goes. But maybe I am generalizing too much. Perhaps other tubes would make a difference.


Edited by negura - 11/29/13 at 7:19am
post #544 of 874
Agreed, very well written by AnakChan. Just a quick question, why would you think the LLMK2 was broken? Your comments of the bass seem to mirror mine with the LLMK1; except for a lack of sub bass (on the LLMK1...as well I haven't heard the LLMK2 yet but both share the same circuitry and BOM internally from what I can surmise).
Edited by MacedonianHero - 11/29/13 at 10:12am
post #545 of 874

Negura, I don't have a lot of experience with tube amps and the two I have are both by Craig. My understanding from reading here or elsewhere is that his tube amps are not very tubey sounding but leans a little more towards SS styled sounds.

 

MH, I don't know much about electronics despite attempting to build a KGSSHV. However from what I've read about the difference between the LL1 and LL2 is that the LL2 is less parasitic. I'd guess even minor tweaks could change the resulting sound (having recently experienced tweaking the Zana Deux to suite the TH-900 by swapping a few components inside). I'd guess only someone who's experienced the LL1 and LL2 side-by-side can confirm or deny if there's any signature differences between the two. About the LL2 potentially being faulty, it was someone else who proposed to us the possibility.

post #546 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post
 

Wow, who would have thought that being on holiday ...

 

 

Excellent review Anak, no need to be modest as this is the best one I've read in awhile. Since both the Electra and LLv2 are new(ish) stat amps it's great to finally see a review that compares both of them side by side.

 

I hope to see you write a mini review comparing both again after finding a tube combo you like with the Electra + whatever issues the LL (might) have. I'm currently considering buying one or the other as I have yet to own an amp that drives the 009 to my satisfaction.


Edited by En_R - 11/29/13 at 11:39pm
post #547 of 874

The 009 is much easier to drive than previous Omega's

You should listen to the Stax 323s, KGSSHV and of course the Headamp BHSE before spending your money if possible.

 

Its also very important you consider the build quality, and maintainability as the amp ages in relation to their price. Stax amps for example are still running 30 years on and can be easily repaired or refurbished when required.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by En_R View Post
 

 

 

Excellent review Anak, no need to be modest as this is the best one I've read in awhile. Since both the Electra and LLv2 are new(ish) stat amps it's great to finally see a review that compares both of them side by side.

 

I hope to see you write a mini review comparing both again after finding a tube combo you like with the Electra + whatever issues the LL (might) have. I'm currently considering buying one or the other as I have yet to own an amp that drives the 009 to my satisfaction.

post #548 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post
 

 

Yeah the 009s are definitely easier to drive, but I have yet to hear an amp that fully utilizes their potential- while the 007 and the original Omega have the T2 and the BHSE.

I see no reason why Stax amps are easier to repair or refurbish then any other amp (for a guy like me with no diy skillz). I'd have to send it in to have it repaired.

 

Also I own/have owned all the amps you just listed, in that order, with quite a few others inbetween. The 323s and KGSSHV were my two first headphone amps purchased -ever.


Edited by En_R - 11/30/13 at 2:59pm
post #549 of 874

Well its all about the interior layout of the components, quality and how easy it is to get at to remove and replace failed components.

 

Stax have published circuit diagrams and in country service points that can be accessed by customers. Also as the circuit diagrams are available they can be serviced by any competent engineer.

Do you really want to ship your amplifier half way round the world for repair!

 

If as you say you have already owned these amps I'm not really sure what you are looking for?

IMHO the Kevin Gilmore designs are the best out there as alternatives to the STAX offerings, particularly if you are looking for neutrality and dynamics.

Perhaps you are looking for something which offers a more tubey sound, then the Woo might be worth a listen

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by En_R View Post
 

 

Yeah the 009s are definitely easier to drive, but I have yet to hear an amp that fully utilizes their potential- while the 007 and the original Omega have the T2 and the BHSE.

I see no reason why Stax amps are easier to repair or refurbish then any other amp (for a guy like me with no diy skillz). I'd have to send it in to have it repaired.

 

Also I own/have owned all the amps you just listed, in that order, with quite a few others inbetween. The 323s and KGSSHV were my two first headphone amps purchased -ever.

post #550 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post
 

 

There are stax service centers in the US aren't there? Yeah sending it to Japan would be the last option on my list.

I had a maxxed WES in my house for about a month, with a nice selection of tubes... I can see how someone would enjoy the sound with the 009s (it's not up to the job when driving 007s/Omega).

 

If KG designs do it for you, then that's good. The 009s are far from neutral however, and with the BHSE the sound was too bright and even brittle at times - though like you said dynamics were quite nice. With the KGSSHV the entire sound was just too flat, even coming from a warm source. Not sure what happened there... it was the same deal with the 007 (though in that case the sound the 007s were also too dark sounding), but again bass (driver?) control was top notch.

 

The BHSE is the amp I kept after trying all the others as they are phenomenal with the 007 and the Omega. Still looking for such a pairing for the 009.

post #551 of 874

So whats missing (or added) in the current offerings which makes you feel the 009's are not suited to the current crop of amps?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by En_R View Post

 

The BHSE is the amp I kept after trying all the others as they are phenomenal with the 007 and the Omega. Still looking for such a pairing for the 009.

post #552 of 874

Hello,

It seems that your discussion (very interesting) is now thing of the past, since a large comparative test in progress, with the new headphone JPS ABYSS seems presently preferred to the Stax SR-009 headphone + Electra of Superfred (without counting the 727 SRM Pierre) and also that PS1000, LCD3 and TH900  headphones.
(more details in the coming hours in the french forum)
http://www.homecinema-fr.com/forum/post177886629.html#p177886629
Eric

post #553 of 874

What's the French translation for ''Flavour of the month''? :wink: 

post #554 of 874

baguette du mois.

post #555 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric65 View Post
 

Hello,

It seems that your discussion (very interesting) is now thing of the past, since a large comparative test in progress, with the new headphone JPS ABYSS seems presently preferred to the Stax SR-009 headphone + Electra of Superfred (without counting the 727 SRM Pierre) and also that PS1000, LCD3 and TH900  headphones.
(more details in the coming hours in the french forum)
http://www.homecinema-fr.com/forum/post177886629.html#p177886629
Eric

I'm sure you would retract that statement after one listening session from the SR-009 + BHSE or even better the DIY T2 combo.

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