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Why are STAX headphones unwanted? - Page 4

post #46 of 114

I cant speak for the US but Stax have been very well known in Europe for several decades and i've been a user of their products off and on for over 40 years (showing my age now bigsmile_face.gif).

I still have the original pair of SRD5's and energizer I bought all that time ago.  They still work fine and the energizer was repaired once in all that time!  

Now thats what I call value for money.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The internet has been huge to popularize them, specifically the Head-Fi megathread and other headphone forum megathreads.  They would have had next to zero international presence otherwise given how they marketed themselves.  If they were founded during the internet/forum age, they would have had a whole lot of immediate international hype with the quality of product they put out.  As it is, they languished in relative international obscurity for a long time.

post #47 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Hmm, that's actually exactly what Bob Olhsson, a well known masterer in Nashville posits - he explains that the Stax are "great for revealing audio problems but that's not great for mix translation, because extreme transparency makes musical balance far less critical because you can hear so deeply into the mix.  What's right or wrong on "pedestrian" speakers/headphones becomes apples/oranges with really transparent headphones/speakers."

 

In other words, the ones that know about them and specifically don't use them do so because they're too good and will not be an accurate representation of how the consumer will ultimately be listening to it.

 

Again, Stax have been historically horrible at promoting/marketing internationally, so many may not have heard of them.  This does not make them bad - there are quite a few good things out there that people just don't know about.

 

I would posit you are correct that next to no recordings are "targeted" towards stax, as so few use them.  But there are recordings that are "targeted" to those with neutral or transparent systems, of which many stax products fall into.

 

I and 100 out of 100 other people who have heard them could tell the difference between stax and other headphones blindfolded - or electrostatic speakers like quads from normal ones - the tech is completely different - that's absolute science.  Whether that's absolutely better is a more subjective question.

 

Also you are mis-using the terms placebo and pseudo-science.

There ARE recordings specially targeted towards Stax. Or, to be exact, these recordings were kind of adopted by Stax. They are binaural recordings made with Neumann KU 80 and KI 81 artificial head microphone(s) http://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=hist_microphones&cid=ku80_publications

and were originally issued as LPs on West German label whose name eludes my memory at the time, only to be reissued  a couple of years later as CDs on Audiostax label, which had, majority at least, proud image of Stax Lambda on its front cover - unfortunately, on this current ebay auction there is only pic of the rear side with the contents of the cd : http://www.ebay.de/itm/2-STAX-Kunstkopf-Doppel-CDs-neu-/110962723776?pt=DE_Musik_Weitere_Formate&hash=item19d5e4cbc0#ht_744wt_932

I do have this one and, how to say, it does show its age and  (flaws of ) original equipment it was recorded with, transfer from analog to CD was not particularly sucessful either.  This next one should be better, but I never had the privilege to hear it:

http://www.google.si/imgres?q=audiostax+kunstkopfumgang+im+irt+dr+theile+sabine+mike&hl=sl&sa=X&biw=1024&bih=463&tbm=isch&prmd=imvnso&tbnid=R1sp

Whatever Audiostax CD you might be able to lay hands on should convience you binaural recording is the way to go - but they are not the cream of the crop.  Please note binaural or artificial head is most commonly reffered to/heard as Kunstkopf ( German ) - for the simple fact the most research in this direction in recent decade(s) has been done in Germany. Mics were/are being made by Neumann and HEAD Acoustics from Aachen - and both use Stax Lambda for replay.

 

Electrostatic advantages up or down, when it comes to binaural, there is one undisputed king - the AKG K 1000, a dynamic ear speaker. Nothing, even fully loaded Stax system (here I particularly think of Diffuse Field Equalizer(s), the direct product of German research and Japanese production ) can not touch K 1000 on well done binaural recording(s).

post #48 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

Nothing, even fully loaded Stax system (here I particularly think of Diffuse Field Equalizer(s), the direct product of German research and Japanese production ) can not touch K 1000 on well done binaural recording(s).

 

Maybe the Stax Sigma tongue_smile.gif

post #49 of 114

It would be very cool to have some form of a stax system someday, but I fear the more affordable models like the lambda series wouldn't be any better than my he-400. I know they are different things, but I can completely see that happening.

post #50 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The internet has been huge to popularize them, specifically the Head-Fi megathread and other headphone forum megathreads.  They would have had next to zero international presence otherwise given how they marketed themselves.  If they were founded during the internet/forum age, they would have had a whole lot of immediate international hype with the quality of product they put out.  As it is, they languished in relative international obscurity for a long time.

Pretty much, this. Stax make headphones as scientific instruments instead of fashion or lifestyle accessories, and the exposure they're getting on public forums is totally incidental. They don't care; I dare say their views on marketing are pretty naive and/or antiquated. And the fact that most people are reluctant to try them is related to how they present themselves.

I do think they need to update their image, as well as the styling of their products. The old Lambda style phones need to be restyled, there's no excuse to use the same exact housing that you used in the 70s, and which looked ridiculous even then. The SR-001 is an absolute hidden gem in terms of sound, sonically it makes you wonder why a lot of headphones under $1k even exist in the first place, but the ergonomics again are inexcusable in a product that has been on the market for this long. The updated version has new eartips and I'm pretty hopeful about that, though I'm less hopeful about the new thinner diaphragm.

There definitely needs to be more exposure to their lower-end stuff, which is a fantastic deal for the money. Dynamics have shot up in price, but Stax didn't follow suit, so now there's even less of a reason to ignore them. The "SR-009 or bust" attitude is pretty detrimental and ignores a lot of great deals that you can get on cheaper 'stats.
post #51 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by catscratch View Post


Pretty much, this. Stax make headphones as scientific instruments instead of fashion or lifestyle accessories, and the exposure they're getting on public forums is totally incidental. They don't care; I dare say their views on marketing are pretty naive and/or antiquated. And the fact that most people are reluctant to try them is related to how they present themselves.
I do think they need to update their image, as well as the styling of their products. The old Lambda style phones need to be restyled, there's no excuse to use the same exact housing that you used in the 70s, and which looked ridiculous even then. The SR-001 is an absolute hidden gem in terms of sound, sonically it makes you wonder why a lot of headphones under $1k even exist in the first place, but the ergonomics again are inexcusable in a product that has been on the market for this long. The updated version has new eartips and I'm pretty hopeful about that, though I'm less hopeful about the new thinner diaphragm.
There definitely needs to be more exposure to their lower-end stuff, which is a fantastic deal for the money. Dynamics have shot up in price, but Stax didn't follow suit, so now there's even less of a reason to ignore them. The "SR-009 or bust" attitude is pretty detrimental and ignores a lot of great deals that you can get on cheaper 'stats.

Old out of date housings? Don't tell the guys at Grado!

 

But I am hoping they lose the big floppy rectangle design. That right there is a big issue. But I bought them anyway.

post #52 of 114

Catscratch: Stax only have a single person doing all their R&D, one product at a time.

post #53 of 114

But I am hoping they lose the big floppy rectangle design

 

This. It looks terrible and aged and dust and ick, with a teeny bit of retro sexy thrown in. But mostly ick and dust.

post #54 of 114
Prior to listening to them I thought the Stax Lambdas and the AKG K1000s were the ugliest headphones ever made. But then you get to know their personalities and special skills redface.gif
post #55 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

 

Maybe the Stax Sigma tongue_smile.gif

No way - it has to be completely acoustically open - maximum that can be arranged with ESL is 50 % - in theory. K 1000 is 78 % acoustically open - PLUS  the fact that

it does not alter our natural hearing in any way ( no pads, around or on ear ). Sigma is very good as conventional headphone, for binaural it takes earspeaker in true sense of the word to be truly sucessful.

post #56 of 114

I have K1000's and they can be painfully bright to say the least!!  They were the Sennheiser HD800's of their day as they need matching carefully to amplifier and source otherwise they are not a very relaxing listen.

 

The Sigma Pro's would be a very good choice as they are designed to work like speakers or the Jecklin Foat electrostat.

I've not tried the Lambda Pro with the ED1 which it was designed for as this was one of the Stax diffuse field equalisers.

I would guess that the Sennheiser Orpheus could be good with binural as its a  diffuse field equalised headpnone

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

No way - it has to be completely acoustically open - maximum that can be arranged with ESL is 50 % - in theory. K 1000 is 78 % acoustically open - PLUS  the fact that

it does not alter our natural hearing in any way ( no pads, around or on ear ). Sigma is very good as conventional headphone, for binaural it takes earspeaker in true sense of the word to be truly sucessful.


Edited by complin - 10/17/12 at 1:54am
post #57 of 114

Yeh but I dont want a lifestyle product or to be a fashion victim biggrin.gif  High fashion stuff in the main is very fleeting and soon goes out of style and nobody wants it anymore.  There are the odd items that are iconic design items and become timeless classics, but they are few and far between.  I say if it aint broke dont fix it!

I think Edifier are likely to help Stax produce some of the high fashion and lifestyle items you are looking for.

 

My real beef with stax is that they could have updated the materials used in the designs and moved away from plastics to composites or light metallic components.  I would have thought this could have improved the sound by providing a much stronger platform to mount the transducers on.  They could also be more adventurous with the colours, black, brown, and grey are a little dull.

 

You also need to appreciate that Stax are not a big company like the Sennbeiser's of this world, you would almost class them in the Artisan Boutique category.  In fact many of the top specialist Audio Companies are not really that big in numbers of people either.  

 

Also beauty is in the eye of the beholder!  I think Sennheiser did a fantastic job on the styling and comfort of the HD800, but I know there are many others who think it sucks!  The development and tooling of such a design must be a significant cost  and undertaking for many audio companies, Stax included.  I'm not sure if  its a Japanese thing but generally I think their culture is very traditional and they value continuity and understatement.  I dont see a lot of "high fashion" audio coming out of Japan, I may be wrong as there are lots of items/manufacturers we don't see in Europe.

 

As I hate in the ear IEM's and just cant wear them, the SR-001 are an absolute boon to me and personally have no issues with ergonomics.  You are right in that they are a hidden gem and offer surprising and fantastic performance for such diminutive headphones.  I suppose people can tolerate different things like the popular on the ear Grado's, which I fell must be the most uncomfortable headphones ever designed.  However; I do agree that Stax should be more adventurous in the design of the new SR-002 and ought to be able to offer users a number of different ways of using them, perhaps in ear and on the ear canal but not being a headphone designer i'm not sure if thats possible as the coupling to the ear may require different designs.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by catscratch View Post


Pretty much, this. Stax make headphones as scientific instruments instead of fashion or lifestyle accessories, and the exposure they're getting on public forums is totally incidental. They don't care; I dare say their views on marketing are pretty naive and/or antiquated. And the fact that most people are reluctant to try them is related to how they present themselves.
I do think they need to update their image, as well as the styling of their products. The old Lambda style phones need to be restyled, there's no excuse to use the same exact housing that you used in the 70s, and which looked ridiculous even then. The SR-001 is an absolute hidden gem in terms of sound, sonically it makes you wonder why a lot of headphones under $1k even exist in the first place, but the ergonomics again are inexcusable in a product that has been on the market for this long. The updated version has new eartips and I'm pretty hopeful about that, though I'm less hopeful about the new thinner diaphragm.
There definitely needs to be more exposure to their lower-end stuff, which is a fantastic deal for the money. Dynamics have shot up in price, but Stax didn't follow suit, so now there's even less of a reason to ignore them. The "SR-009 or bust" attitude is pretty detrimental and ignores a lot of great deals that you can get on cheaper 'stats.

Edited by complin - 10/17/12 at 2:53am
post #58 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tus-Chan View Post

 

This. It looks terrible and aged and dust and ick, with a teeny bit of retro sexy thrown in. But mostly ick and dust.

But they are well made (and last decades) and sound great. Form follows function at Stax, rather than beauty. Otherwise the Sigmas would have never been born.

Stax have stuck to a well proven formula (their Lambda series have been reference phones since the 70s). What's the problem here?

post #59 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

I have K1000's and they can be painfully bright to say the least!!  They were the Sennheiser HD800's of their day as they need matching carefully to amplifier and source otherwise they are not a very relaxing listen.

 

The Sigma Pro's would be a very good choice as they are designed to work like speakers or the Jecklin Foat electrostat.

I've not tried the Lambda Pro with the ED1 which it was designed for as this was one of the Stax diffuse field equalisers.

I would guess that the Sennheiser Orpheus could be good with binural as its a  diffuse field equalised headpnone

 

K 1000 is a complete game changer when it comes to binaural. New species, so to speak, calling them headphones is simply wrong. The only real existing practical realization of ear speaker that begins to do binaural true justice. Not flawless, the bright treble and careful matching with the amp are its least bothersome troubles, as they can be fixed rather easily. K 1000 has far greater troubles - quite teething ones, as AKG did not fully understand at the time they are not headphones but ear speakers, and did not design everything else ( "peripherals" ) on the same high level as the drivers themselves.  Much like trying to put a tight rope act on slack wobbly wire.

 

Even best diffuse field equalized phones, by design and/or through use of equalizers, that use any form of pads that touch or surround the ear , distort our natural hearing ( natural crosstalk between the ears is reduced/prevented altogether, spectral/spatial cues of our pinnae distorted, etc ) are no match for (almost) completely acoustically transparent transducers of the K 1000 that do not alter our natural hearing in any meaningful way. Phisically impossible for more conventional designs to compete, no matter how perfect the principle they operate on or excellence  of execution of the design. The systematic error they introduce per default is simply too large to be later properly fixed with any sort of band aids. Prevention is better than cure.

 

Jecklin Float is better in this regard, as it does not use any pads or anything but minimum contact required to keep the whole contraption centered on one's head. Problem is acoustic openess - ESL can only in theory reach 50 % acoustical openess, real designs are somewhat worse. Aditionally, all transformers that came with Precide produced Floats leave (too) much to be desired. Hope the recent reincarnation will be better. Properly driven Floats are capable of surpassing any Stax experience in reproduction of the acoustic venue - but will always suffer in bass compared to any Stax and if you are a Marcus Miller fan, steering clear would be a good advice.

 

I you can audition any of the above, do yourself a favor and do so. Then let your ears decide - all are pinnacle level,  choose the one that ticks the most boxes for you.

post #60 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

The development and tooling of such a design must be a significant cost  and undertaking for many audio companies, Stax included.  I'm not sure if  its a Japanese thing but generally I think their culture is very traditional and they value continuity and understatement.

I think the reason why Stax's state of design and marketing is where it is today boils down to exactly just what you speculated above. I was about to bring the cultural difference and traditional Japanese corporate culture to the table but there's nothing to add here.
Edited by arnaud - 10/17/12 at 5:43am
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