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Stax SR-003 with Custom Ear Molds

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Good afternoon,

 

I do not write often on this board but read quite often.  I have been a fan of STAX for a number of years (since 1976).  My first earspeakers were SRX MkIII with an SRD-7, these were followed by Lambda  Pro’s, Lambda Pro Signature which I still use and a pair of SR-003.  I also use Etymotic ER-4p & 6i’s and Klipsch S4i.  One thing I always disliked about the SR-003 was that they hurt my ears physically.  The sound was “good”, but not outstanding to my hearing. Fooling around on the internet one day I found an article entitled

 

 “Tanji, K., Leopold, D.A., Ye, F.Q., Zhu, C., Malloy, M., Saunders, R.C., and Mishkin, M. Effect of sound intensity on tonotopic  fMRI maps in the unanesthetized monkey. NeuroImage 49:150-157, 2010 [Epub 2009 Jul 22].

 

In the materials section of the article they discussed the use of the Stax SR-003 using a custom ear mold for each of the test subjects.  I thought to myself that if a company could make something comfortable enough for a monkey, they could make something for me.  (No, I am not a monkey, but I can imagine trying to conduct an auditory experiment on an unanaesthetized primate and getting any modicum of cooperation is no mean feat) .  According to the article the company that made the ear molds was Starkey Laboratories of Eden Prairie, MN.   The major benefit is that they have  experience making an ear mold for the STAX SR-003 so it was not a “beta test”.

 

A trip to the audiologist was made for the impressions.  The audiologist sent the impressions directly to Starkey and I had them within two weeks.  Cost was $212.00; not inexpensive but for the comfort alone it was incredibly worth it.

 

As to the sound it was transformed in a number of ways.  To my ears the soundstage is more focused, that is images do not wander around and relative placement from left to right is easier to pick out.  Detail is presented in what appears to me to be a much clearer manner.  I hear details on even garden variety recordings that I have listened to for years that I do not remember hearing before.  FLAC files and other high resolution material is usually excellent (just remember that just because something is in a high resolution format it may not be a very nice sounding recording - that is my opinion)  Overall tonal balance is better from top to bottom.  I think that the high frequency roll off that has been mentioned here before is not objectionable at all in that the characteristic overtones of unamplified instruments sound to me like they should.  Voices are incredibly clear and when I listen critically I can hear the characteristics of different microphone and positioning relative to the voice.

 

Bottom line I now have a very comfortable pair of excellent sounding headphones that I can wear for extended periods.  If you have ever considered custom ear molds for a set of IEM’s, my experience is very positive and I will not hesitate to go this route in the future. 

 

I look forward to the Unique Melody Miracle.

 

Regards to all

post #2 of 10

Could you possibly post a picture of the molds? Thanks in advance.

 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hope this helps. 


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post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Pease note that I no longer use the headband at all with the SR-003,  Of the SR-404, lambda pros, ER-6i, ER4p, Grado SR 80, Beats Detox, and unmodded Triple-Fis, the SR-003 is my current favorite,  This fischer modded triple fi is coming and then I am considerung the Mage or the Miracle from UM.

post #5 of 10

Thanks much .  This is really good info.  Even the Stax engineer who originally designed these could not wear them for an extended period of time.  That is what always gave me "the fear" about buying them -- especially when contemplating paying a hefty premium for the out of production SR-001 set up.  

post #6 of 10

Ah, I never thought of that. Really cool smily_headphones1.gif

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Just in case anyone looks at this again I have ordered the Heir Audio 8a rather than the Unique Melody. And I still love the STAX SR-003.
post #8 of 10
Thanks for this info.
post #9 of 10

Are you planning on doing a comparison on how you feel about the  Heir and the Stax?  What was your reasons for getting

the Heir?  What was missing in the Stax that prompted the decision?

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by earlinarizona View Post

Are you planning on doing a comparison on how you feel about the  Heir and the Stax?  What was your reasons for getting

the Heir?  What was missing in the Stax that prompted the decision?

 I will try to compare the STAX to the Heir but I am thinking it might be a bit like comparing an apple and an orange.  The STAX are not as portable as you might like them to be, the Heir is protable. The STAX are a great system for kicking back in the bedroom but not great for taking to Safeway (I have done that, the amp used 8 C batteries and is too heavy, and the wire is too short and gets caught on things).   The isolation on the STAX is not great, almost non-existant so forget a bus or train.  Because of the STAX small size though they do not leak at an objectionable level for others in a quiet room (so take them to the office or the library), unlike the SR-404 sig that I can't listen to while the family watches TV in the same room - too many complaints from them.  IEM's isolate well.  I find the small STAX to be analytical and a bit dry (not as bad as before the earmolds but still somewhat dry).  

 

The sound I am looking for is a marriage between full range (top to bottom) and lush sounding like live music might sound under optimum conditions but still an IEM (I said might, full, rich, glorious - I don't care if it's technicolored, sounds like fun to me).    Imagine a Hansen King or Grand Master driven by Tenor amps and a full dCS digital set up that you can walk around with - I guess that's what I'm looking for.  I heard such a system at CES a couple of years ago and I have never heard anything electronic sound as good.  It sounded the same way the next day too.

 

That's why the Heir's.  And I got them before the price went up.


Edited by pspivak - 11/3/12 at 8:59pm
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