Edited 12/2/2012: refreshed based on feedback I received. These are the questions being sent to Stax.
Good news about the Stax visit, I could confirm today that we are visiting Stax in a couple of weeks time.
Questions have been left private until but we thought it would be nice to hear from all those interested what you would like to see covered during the interview.
The only hiccup is that I need to send the questions this week to Stax and translate to Japanese before hand so there is only a very short window to hear your requests. Tentatively, I am waiting until Wednesday (2 days from now), so fire away!
FYI, I could not hear what questions scottsmrnyc had prepared but here's my list:
About Stax Japan:
A1. What is the size of the company and staff allocation for the various departments? For instance, how many designers?
A2. What are the typical staff experience at Stax (e.g. how many years people have been there)?
About product design process:
B1. What is the typical design process for your headphones and amplifiers?
B2. Do you start 1) from a target performance curve (such as diffuse field or free field frequency response) , 2) from a concept / geometry, 3) from a target market segment / product price?
B3. It seems like Stax house sound has evolved toward a more lively / bright tonal signature over the years. Is this 1) a reaction to the market, 2) a change in the taste of the designer, 3) a result of advances in materials (such as thinner stronger diaphragm)?
B4. What amplifier does Stax uses to design your earspeakers? For instance do you use high power amps like the T2 or production amps for the design and / or final voicing?
B5. Do you rely on testing, and / or simulation, and / or listening impressions for the product design and optimization?
B6. What is the typical design cycle duration for a product (either a product evolution like mkII or new product like 009)?
B7. What are Stax testing facilities and equipment?
B8. What are the design aspects of your earspeakers that you feel make them very special products (such as diaphragm material, stator design, earpad material
C1. Is the manufacturing and assembly of Stax earspeakers and amps fully performed in-house and, if partly outsourced, what are the typical companies you work with (machine shops, part suppliers ...)?
C2. What are the typical assembly conditions (clean room, ...) and equipment verifications before shipment?
C3. For instance, is every headphone run-in for some time and / or measured prior to shipment.
C4. Stax is practically the only manufacturer of electrostatic headphones in the world. Do you think this is because designing a robust and good sounding electrostatic headphone requires experience that few people have? Or is it due to manufacturing issues (such as the need for a very tight tolerance in electrode design)?
About future products:
D1. Will there be a flagship amp to go along with the 009 and can we expect a product reminiscent of the SRM-T2?
D2. If a product like the SRM-T2 if out of question, what are the typical barriers to produce again (weight, size, end price)?
D3. Do you feel like you have maximized earspeaker performance with the SR009 or do you see potential evolutions / improvements?
D4. Are you aware that some companies bundle Stax headphones with their products due to their high transparency and speed? This is the case with Smyth Research (http://smyth-research.com/indexjp.html/
) and their virtualiser, a product that attempts to alleviate limitations of stereo playback through headphones and even enable realistic playback of multi-channel soundtracks through the use of personalized HRTFs. Does Stax have some interest in such realtime "equalization" of headphone response to further improve the user experience, in particular in terms of imaging?
About the future of Stax:
E1. Stax used to make more than earspeakers / drivers. For instance, some power amplifiers and DACs from Stax were very famous at the time. Is there a plan to expand the business again in the future?
E2. What was the influence of the purchase by Edifier? Do you see Stax changing direction in terms of product designs (for instance to reduce manufacturing costs)?
E3. Is there some joint development in the plan?
E4. Customers have often expressed the need for additional support in some regions and/or wondered about the high price of Stax products in their country. Do you plan to use Edifier to strenghen your overseas distribution?Edited by arnaud - 12/2/12 at 6:50am