STAX vs. third party amplifiers
Originally Posted by athenaesword
Originally Posted by clabbe
I am wondering about exactly the same thing. From reading this thread I get the impression that the LL gets a lot of love from people who listens to bass heavy music. Considering both the LL and the BHSE as an upgrade from the 727-II, I would love to know more about this too..
there's not enough written about the 727 vs the LL and the other third party offerings. everyone seems to agree that the 727 is a worthy amp, and generally don't have bad things to say about it, but it never seems to be directly compared to the 3rd party amps. it's as if its shelved because it costs 1/3 to 1/2 the price of the other offerings. if i've missed out on the comparisons somewhere pardon me, but I just haven't seen any.
Well expressed athenaesword. I've been thinking the same, and wishing for comparisons with STAX amplifiers. At least Playback should have done it in all three of their reviews of the third party amplifiers for electrostatic headphones. I would have liked InnerFidelity's Tyll Hertsens to have done the same when he wrote about STAX SR-009 and SR-007.
Headphones is an (arguably quite large) niche. High end headphones is definitely a niche, probably rather small. Electrostatic headphones is a small niche within high end headphones and is dominated by STAX. STAX is a small company as documented by InnerFidelity's Tyll Hertsens in his article about the sale of STAX to Edifier. I further expect that most of STAX' sales (as most manufacturer's sales) are their lower priced products. STAX SRM-727* and SRM-007t* (and SR-009 and SR-007*) probably aren't the bulk of their sales.
(The bulk of) STAX headphones are typically bought by grown up (40-50 years and up) music lovers that listen to classical music, jazz etc. These people aren't hifi or headphone enthusiasts, but they appreciate good music and good reproduction of it. They may very well be among the regular audience of the local symphony orchestra etc. These people typically visit a STAX dealer, buy a complete STAX set and listen to their music without thinking much more about the equipment for years.
The third party manufacturers of amplifiers for electrostatic headphones are hence very small within this tiny niche. They are much smaller than the already little STAX. Their electrostatic headphone amplifiers sell in much smaller quantities than STAX (which also has rather small quantities to begin with). They are all very small scale and hence have to divide their costs on only a few produced units. As far as I know all the third party manufacturers only sell amplifiers that are more expensive than STAX and mainly/only(?) direct from the manufacturer. This indicates that no manufacturers seems to be able to compete with STAX in or near STAX's price range, not even STAX's most expensive products.
The top STAX products cost approximately 1/2 (or less) than the third party products. I would expect that we can divide the difference in two. One part gives better sound quality or else there (probably) wouldn't be any customers. The other part covers the extra costs of small scale operation, i.e. fewer units sold to cover development, tooling, production (line), marketing, sales and other costs. This means that customers pay an extra premium for products from third party manufacturers compared to STAX. In other words: STAX would probably be able to sell a product with a similar sound quality level at a lower price.
Please, don't misunderstand. I'm not attacking the third party manufacturers. I'm just trying to look into the (sad?) facts of life and mechanics of business and economics.
Originally Posted by rubenpp
Please notice that my sonic preferences may be different from yours.
Well, to begin with, the LL outputs more power at low volumes. The mids and trebles are very clean, even cleaner and brighter than the BHSE, but not as harsh as presented in STAX’s 727A (which I do also own and can't listen for more than half an hour straight).
The bass simply shines. The bass extension (which is, for me, the biggest downside of the WES) is very deep. Some people may find that, as a solid state amp, it has to necessarily sound bright. I don’t think it’s that bright. It just comes more alive in comparison to the other two amps.
Some mention of the 727A in comparison to the LL and BHSE by EricoHGB
I saw and was a (bit) confused by this. I don't think I've seen any others describing the STAX amplifiers as "harsh". I've even gotten the impression that some thinks the STAX SRM-727* and especially SRM-007t* soften or dull the SR-009. I've interpreted Spritzer that way.