try remove the rear foam (see my avatar) :)
Edited by pkshan - 1/16/13 at 8:20pm
For me the image seems wide enough but not too tall. I prefer it this way :). Probably one can make it better, the 009 does, the Senn 800 too, but still, imaging is not the best trait of headphones anyway. Far, far not. My main speakers have similar sound signature as the 507 (with more room interactions), but throw such a big and deep image which no headphones can do at the moment. But I listen to headphones for their intimacy, musical resolution and undistorted lows. This side of live music choose your compromise :).
Here's a bit of feel-good stuff for those of us who love the SR-507, reviewed in http://www.soundstagexperience.com, January 2012.
Thus far I’ve focused on the small scale, but the SR-507s could also handle the large scale. Playing densely orchestrated passages or complex studio mixes, I could clearly separate the various threads in the musical fabric, though I never felt I was being forced to do so. When a radical dynamic swing came along -- as it inevitably does in any orchestral recording -- the SR-507s handled it with aplomb. Any component that can convincingly run the gauntlet from a single violin to full orchestral tumult and bombast is just coasting when you ask it to play pop or rock. But have no fear -- I also put the SR-507s through their paces with large quantities of Jimi Hendrix, including the fabulous new Winterland boxed set (8 LPs, 1 CD, Columbia/Legacy), which arrived while I was writing the review, as well as Eric Clapton, classic Santana, and other usual suspects. (Aside from being an orchestral and jazz trombonist, I played electric guitar in a cover band that loves the music of the late 1960s and early ’70s.) The SR-507s drove the way they should, seared the way they should, and generally could wreak musical havoc when asked to. Driven by the GES, they never got overly bright or harsh unless fed the most extremely trashy modern recordings.
With naturally miked recordings, I heard a soundscape that extended from left to right significantly outside my head, and in front of me as well. With closely miked studio recordings, voices ended up inside my head rather than in front of it. The Staxes’ exceptional transparency and detail delivered an astounding sense of depth when the recording contained that information -- such as on the disc of violin concertos by Ole Borneman Bull with soloist Annar Follesø and Ole Kristian Ruud leading the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (SACD/CD/Blu-ray, 2L Records 2L-067-SABD).
Over the past year I’ve heard many of the top-of-the-line headphones that can be driven by normal means: the HiFiMan HE-500, Audeze LCD 2, Sennheiser HD 800, and Ultrasone Edition 8, which range in price from $899 to $1599. These designs sound markedly different from each other, and I found things to like about each. In terms of detail, transparency, and accuracy of transients, the Stax SR-507s ran circles around all of them... But if you value detail, transparency, openness, and timbres and textures just to the warm side of realistic, regardless of volume level or musical complexity, then the combination of Stax SR-507 Lambda Signature headphones and WooAudio GES amplifier is far and away the best I’ve heard. You may be able to do better, but I have a feeling that it will cost you a lot more. If you audition this system, you’d better be prepared to keep it. I’m keeping this one, which makes it a de facto Reviewers’ Choice.
. . . S. Andrea Sundaram
Headphone amplifiers -- Grace Design m902, HeadRoom Total BitHead
Headphones/earphones -- Audeze LCD 2, Etymotic Research hf5, HiFiMan HE-500, Sennheiser HD 800, Shure e3c, Ultrasone Pro 2900 and Edition 8
Digital sources -- Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal stereo disc player, Apple iPod (fifth generation)
Computer -- Laptop computer running Windows Vista, Realtek HD audio ALC 272, and foobar2000, via coaxial digital output
Analog source -- Michell Tecnodec turntable with HR power supply, modified Rega RB300 tonearm, Shure V15X cartridge, Trigon Audio Vanguard II phono stage with Volcano power supply
Interconnects -- DH Labs Revelation, QED Silver Spiral, JPS Superconductor
Power conditioning -- Equi=Tech Son of Q
I recently bought a Stax SR-007 Mk1 from macrog, one of the good sounding pieces.
With many kinds of music, I still prefer the 507:
- it has has bigger, wider, taller, albeit more diffuse sound stage than the 007 Mk1
- seems to go deeper, with better deep bass slam
- is much more open and more neutral sounding, in fact sounds almost identical with the best pieces of Senn HD-800 I heard, with more warmth and smoothness.
With classical and instrumental/jazz, the 007 Mk1
- sounds more true to the instrument timbres, although a bit dark
- sounds more shut in, but not veiled and not lacking in treble at all
- better tracking of dynamic gradations in music, transients, inflexions
- better microdynamics
- more midbass slam than the 507 (which has a better deep bass slam)
- much more narrow, but better focused sound stage.
I have heard the SR-007 Mk2 and the SR-009 too. I clearly liked the 507 more than the SR-007 Mk2, and as said, often preferred it over the Mk1 too.
The SR-009 improves the sound in the same direction as the 507 (open, big soundstage etc), but it is far, far better:
- the sound stage is bigger, but also better focused; I like more the 009 imaging than that of the HD800
- has a class better/more musical bass than any other headphone I heard, including the HD800, LCD-3, TH900 (I said better :)
- every tone is just more true to the real timbre of instruments, too
- very good micro- and macro-dynamic gradation, close to perfect transients.
In terms of sound quality, the SR-009 is the headphone to keep for long term, by a big margin. I just hope new developments in materials and electrostatic technology will make this more accessible in the future (check for instance www.piosound.com ), as well as even better. Until then, the 507 is the best price-performance headphone for me. It can be fairly much improved by cryogenic treatment, so I may check the Airbow SC-21 some day, may be worth the price difference. Or, could try a local cryogenic treatment for a start?
^ Very nice impressions Zolkis.
I completely agree, especially when you talk about the 009. On some aspects the 507 is almost on par with the 009: dynamics are excellent in both, and 507's bass impact it's great, something the 'old-school' STAX can dream of.
Where the 009 are exceptional is in rendering the timbre of acoustic instruments and voices. Violin is just incredible, all the nuances of the instrument are there, the tone is incredibly rich, it never sounds dry.
The 009 are definitely end-of-game headphones if you listen to acoustic music, I'm glad I upgraded to them, but the 507 are an incredible value for money.
I owned the SR009s and now I owned the SR507 for a few weeks. While I do prefer the older SR-Lambda Sig, it is evident that the SR-507 is part of Stax's new philosophy of sound that started with the SR-009. SR-009 is absolutely perfect for classical and acoustic genres, however, for modern music that needs bass (think electronic) it is too clinical and the bass very lenient, which in my opinion is not neutral.
This is where the SR-507 comes in. It has great bass that extends really deep but there is definite bloom to the bass, and it can sound 'boomy' at times. Texture is definitely not on the level of the SR-009, but again, the SR-009 lacks quantity of bass when it is called for by the music. The detail retrieval of the SR-507 still amazes me because it costs considerably less than the TOTL 009, making it a great value stat. Other variables such as imaging/sound stage are fantastic on the 009s but just OK on the SR-507 but it does make up this flaw with great instrument separation.
An update to my impressions. I have changed the ear pads to new ones on the SR-007, and during the process I listened to the bare drivers. It was awful, as expected, with lots of midrange honkiness. (However, when I did the same to the Hifiman HE500, it sounded better and with deeper bass without any ear pads at all!). The new ear pads changed the sound of the 007 pretty much towards the darker and bassier side of neutral, but still sounded better than the old ones. I started to figure that the drivers may be a little bit too far from my ears.
So I started experimenting with the pads. As a first step, I took the circular wire out and put the pads directly on the drivers (it took some time to learn how to fit the pads properly into the circular channels). This already had 2 advantages: first, the pads were not rotating all around every time I have taken the headphones off, and second, it sounded better to my ears.
Then, I took out the foam from the old pads, and trimmed the height of the thick side a bit, and cut out the inner straight part so that it became circular. IOW, I made it a bit shallower, and circular from inside. I tried it, and wow, the 007 started to open up, and sounded way more towards the direction of the 507.
Then I figured the clamp force was too high and the drivers were not in optimal angle. So I slightly adjusted the headband, opening it larger, and as a consequence the sound opened up and the sound stage went wider and taller. In turn I was surprised to hear how much more musical, and more accurate it sounded. Comparing that with the sound of the bare driver, I would somewhat agree with the opinion that ear pads design and black magic have something in common.
I have checked every step back and forth several times, in order to make sure I have hit some kind of optimum. Few hours later, I was satisfied, and just enjoyed the music with the 007.
I alternated the 007 and 507 with a lot of music genres, and the 007 won more or less every time. Actually the 507 is really close, but the 007 sounded a bit more musical every time.
Finally I have put the modified foam into the new earpad leather skin, and assembled it on the 007.
So now I have to change my ranking: there is nothing the 507 does well and this 007 would not do better, including bass heavy electronic music and hard rock. It is not a TH900 for bass, neither an LCD-3, but I appreciate true instrument timbre far more - and there is plenty of good bass there, certainly enough for me, and I do like bass.
In conclusion, there are 2 good news. First, the 507 is a really, really good deal. Second, the 007 ear pads can be tweaked with great benefits (to my ears). I have to compare it again against the 009 in order to re-evaluate the trade-offs.
I wouldn't recommend decreasing the height of of the 007 earpads as that does some nasty things to the sound. The distance from diaphragm to the ear is crucial for all electrostatics.
No SR-007 owner should leave the arcs alone though as they have to be fitted to the users head. I installed new Mk2 pads on a friends set recently and when I saw him wear the set it was clear he was never even close to hear what they are truly capable of. 20 minutes of adjustments and they were perfect for his head and he was shocked to hear the difference.
The arcs are the ones that go over your head. The ones that are inside the earpads are called springs and they are crucial, the set the diaphragm-ear distance and the correct angle of the set.
As for the earpads being too easy to rotate, there are a number of reasons for that. Perished parts and the wrong assembly being the chief culprits.
I'd like warn users to read through pkshan's posts in the Stax thread before doing any sort of mods on Stax gear be it earspeakers or amplifiers.
Thanks spritzer, I've got the terms now :). Yes, I think the the biggest difference was made by adjusting the arcs. I will try again with the new earpads, without and with the springs, and of course with the arcs already adjusted.
They have exactly that, they are less technical but the quantity and impact is alot more than the 009.