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Why are STAX headphones unwanted? - Page 7

post #91 of 121

I don't think, necessarily that crossfeed was designed to make headphones sound like speakers, but deal with, say, old recordings where instruments tended to be either on the left or the right. For that, it helps considerably.

post #92 of 121
A Realiser would help, the rest is a gimmick wink.gif
post #93 of 121
Originally Posted by edstrelow View Post




  I have not tried replaying binaural recordings with and AKG 1000, but have tried them with the Stax Sigmas, which are conceptually similar, i.e. drivers placed ahead of the ears, and binaural does not sound right on such phones.  You need a more conventional phone.   As you note there are different modes of binaural recording and for some modes , an IEM may give the best playback.   As COMPLIN notes above, AKG had developed a fairly sophisticated approach to this problem.


The Sigmas and AKG K1000 do however create some semblance of a natural soundfield with conventional stereo recordings and that is their great strength. (BTW I own three sets of Sigmas)


I have also had the Polk SDA 1's for many years and chose them over the then-available Quad stats.  They do a good job of eliminating the crossfeed and can give precisely localized audio images which are almost tactile.   It's quite instructive with them to switch their cross-feed elimination speakers off and on and hear the set go from conventional stereo to enhanced imaging. They do however have a sweet spot beyond which the effect disappears,  but then  they just revert to sounding  like good conventional speakers.


On a related issue, I am amazed at the use of crossfeed simulators to try to make headphones sound like speakers.  These just add spatial distortion.  If more people had heard systems like the Polk SDA they would understand this issue better.  


There appears to be a belief, put out by various headphone amp makers, that crossfeed will give rise to a sense of externalization of sound (i.e. sound apparently located in the external word, rather than inside the head as with most headphones except the Sigmas and K1000).  


The argument is that because speakers create crossfeed, this is what makes speakers' sound appear externalized. However externalization is the result of the fact that the sound source is externally located and  thus creates a characteristic type of pinna reflection.  All the crossfeed in the world is not going to make the sound appear externalized. This is an example of the truism that "correlation does not prove causation."  Crossfeed has nothing to do with externalization and is the enemy of precise spatial localization.  If amplifier crossfeed makes your phones sound like speakers that's fine, but you are just buying into your speakers' inherent deficiencies. Some people say they use it because they find stereo too hard to take through headphones;  that's also a personal decision but then I have a bunch of old mono recordings that you will really love.

A very nice and informative contribution to better understanding of crosfeed issues with both headphones and speakers, particularly regarding Polk SDA.


I was interested in SDA from the first reviews ( in Stereo Review, late Julian Hirsch ? ), but since I am from Europe never got to hear any Polk SDA speakers. They are next to unheard of over here - to the point my first Polk designed speaker I did get to hear was a part of the Samsung all in one hifi tower / system - giving it tremendous edge over any of its competitors and giving any real hifi tremendous run for the money - that Samsung 100 w/ch could "survive" the Chesky double CD demo disc without a hiccup ( real wood, solid as a rock, no flimpsy plasticky enclosures as any other similar system - but conventionsal, not SDA). Considered getting Polk SDAs over the pond a while ago, but shipping unfortunately exceeds the cost of the speakers in most cases - add import duties and it is easy to see why I backed down in the end.


I am working at the moment on something that resembles miniaturized building blocks from which a Polk SDA could be kind of recreated -

Technics SB-CA 1060 speakers, two pairs, wired a la SDA. Dimensions are such to nearly allow for the perfect 17 ( or so ) cm distance between the

"main" and "crossover" speaker vertical centre lines if the speakers are positioned side by side as close as possible - if it turns out promising, I will make new cabinets allowing for the perfect 17 cm distance. It should be a good approximation, giving the essentials of SDA - please note 1060s are very good speakers in their own right, with astonishing bass down to 30 or so Hz due to the passive woofer - something also Polk is famous for.

SB-CA1060s, like most Technics gear, was better designed than executed, better executed than QC'd - and there are unbelievable omissions and decisions for the comercially available version; I can not believe the prototype did use any of the sky high Q resonating part(s), not in a design that in essence is really well thought out and basically got everything right. Must have been cost cutting measures messing up with the sound of the prototype that was most probably thought  too costly to produce. I will iron the wrinkles out in one pair first, used as a conventional stereo speaker system, then I will do the same to another pair - giving me "LEGO" building blocks to try SDA for the first time. Nearly,  not quite there yet - but when did you hear the majestic finale of Mahler's second reproduced at (nearly) live levels with ( nearly, down to 32 Hz-ish) full range ( admittedly, powered at 100 + W/ch ) - out of enclosures with max dimension of approx 45 cm precisely 41 cm  and weight of under 7 kg per speaker ?


I am most interested in getting spatial cues right - both for speakers and headphones, and this SDA clone should help a lot in this direction.

Edited by analogsurviver - 12/15/12 at 1:59am
post #94 of 121

I cancellation with the bass range and on the later models ignored the tweeters as well, I believe, concentrating on the midranges. The bass I can see why, since low frequencies are not well localized, the trble I don't understand unless it was just a cost issue. since the orginal SDA 1 has 2 tweeters/speaker.

post #95 of 121
Originally Posted by edstrelow View Post

I cancellation with the bass range and on the later models ignored the tweeters as well, I believe, concentrating on the midranges. The bass I can see why, since low frequencies are not well localized, the trble I don't understand unless it was just a cost issue. since the orginal SDA 1 has 2 tweeters/speaker.

I am familiar with this. The bass decision is understandable. The treble was not just a cost cutting measure, it had to do with "something" I read about and can not remember right of the bat. In their big flagship Polk progressively reduced the number of tweeters in the array with increasing frequency, trying to mimic point source ( and creating one of, if not the most complex passive crossover of any speaker in existance in the process ). Full decription and review(s) are available on Polk Polk SDA enthusiast's site:




I will try with much smaller speakers, as they are - phisycally smaller and therefore have less issues as regards dimensions/positionig of the drivers for proper SDA effect. I will see how far it will be needed to go with omissions from the full range SDA for the best sound in my living room. 

Edited by analogsurviver - 12/18/12 at 6:44am
post #96 of 121

New member here.  Just starting to look into getting some decent 'phones.  I ran across a pair of STAX SRD-4 Electret earphones, asking $40.  I saw someone mention on here to avoid the Electret series...may I ask why?  Just a "lower end" model?  Would they be worth trying for $30-40?  Any input would be appreciated!




post #97 of 121

Sure worth trying! Good working condition they can go for 2 to 3 times that $ it seems.

Make sure to ask the seller if there are any channel imbalances between left side or right side, like lower output than the other. If so this is not fixable and will drive you nuts.

It's not fixable because the permanently embedded charge in the driver has been affected.  Full bias electrostatics use a temporarily applied charge which is a different approach.

The SRD-4 is the transformer unit to hook to to your amplifier speaker terminals, but what is the actual headphone model do you know, and SR-30, SR-40, SR-60 ?  Anyhow before going further ask that question about imbalances.


Oh and welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet :)

Edited by nick n - 11/9/13 at 7:38pm
post #98 of 121

Thanks for the input, Nick!  I will make sure to ask those questions.  Actually, if I don't end up getting these, I'm just going to casually keep my eye out for any good deals that come along.  Getting 'phones is not really a high priority, but these STAX phones have me intrigued.  I can't spend too much, because I've been doing a lot of upgrading lately!


I went from:

Klipsch SF-3 towers (traded to brother for ipad)

Panasonic SA-XR25 receiver (traded to brother for ipad)

Audio Technica AT-LP50 turntable (gave to a friend so he can start his vinyl quest!)



Emotiva separates (amp and preamp)

Magnepan 2.7QR speakers (had Wharfedale Diamond 9.6's for a few months...traded those and a Peachtree Dac-it for the Magnepans)

Rega RP-1 turntable

Bellari VP-130 phono stage


and in my office:

Sherbourn PA 2-50 desktop amp

Kef 103.2 speakers

DIY 8" subwoofer


Scoring these STAX phones would be the icing on the cake!  I would probably use them in the office setup, so I can listen with a little more volume after I put my daughter to bed.

post #99 of 121

wow. Quite a swap.


If those don't go through and  wanting to keep costs lower-ish then be on the lookout then for some Stax SR-3 models, they are fairly common and also a full bias electrostatic. Many folks like those ones and plenty of impressions in here for those if you use the little search  tab at the top of the page. Classy looking also, just like the SR-5.

 Might be able to find a deal on them, hopefully, but would like to see you score those cheap electrets. It'll be a taste of things to come....

Edited by nick n - 11/9/13 at 8:07pm
post #100 of 121

For me it's money. The day I can afford a SR-007 and/or SR-009, I'll gladly go for it. But for now, I'm fine with my orthos. I guess I can live with them for some more time.

post #101 of 121

I think I've got a deal for the electrets at $40.  He says the left and right balance is equal.  He says the only marking on the headset itself is "electret ear speaker."  I'm not sure if he's just not seeing it or if the label came off or what.  Oh well.  For $40, I'm not out much if I don't like them.  Wish me luck!  I'm hoping for some of the sweet midrange, transparency, and imaging that I get from my Magnepans and my Kefs.

post #102 of 121


 And you are getting the small adaptor box also right? the SRD-4 unit?  For $40 ... the pads alone cost around that to get replacements.... I say great deal.

post #103 of 121
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post


Indeed. The irony is that if they did what they were doing then today, they'd have had more of a market for that level of equipment, given how much more prevalent super-expensive hi-fi products have become, and might not have gone broke.

No. They'd have managed to go broke anyhow. Endemic to hobbyist turns businessman ventures everywhere.:D


As it is that bankruptcy was probably the best thing to ever happen to Stax from a user point of view. An electrostatic comp starting up now would be bilking 4 grand for an entry level system from us and the little porta stax would NEVER have been born.

post #104 of 121

Yep, the box comes with it! :)  Picking up tonight around 5-6 PM, but I have class until 10PM.  Will have to give a quick listen when I get home.  I offered the guy $30 but he was pretty firm at $40...still a good deal I think.  I don't listen to headphones a lot, but these might just change my mind.  The only headphones I have right now are a bunch of crappy earbuds and some Panasonic over-ear phones...not sure which model those are, but I don't think they're probably anything to write home about.

post #105 of 121

Does anyone know how to identify what model my headphones are?  They are electrets and they used the SRD-4 adapter box, but the phones themselves just say something like "stax electret earspeaker"...there is no model number to be found.  They must be the SR-40, SR-30, or SR-50.  Either way, I like them!  Very smooth mids.  I was expecting a little more in the imaging department, but I think my expectations were too high.  I was also listening to crappy mp3 source material.  I wasn't terribly impressed for the first 5-6 songs...they sounded good, but I was expecting "best thing I've ever heard" lol.  The last few songs I played sounded VERY good though, so maybe the problem with the first songs was the low quality of the source material.  Either way, for $40, I'm happy!  I already want to hear some Lambdas or other true electrostatics, for comparison.

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