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Stax Interview and Factory tour 12/12/12 - Page 5

post #61 of 229

I once toured the Cadbury's Chocolate factory in Tasmania and you were allowed to take chocolate (as much as you could eat) while doing the tour. Was there a similar arrangement for this tour?

 

Great article - geek utopia

post #62 of 229

Very nice read indeed, good job to the mentioned 3 and the Staxen's, would love to see a successor to the T2....

post #63 of 229
Thanks for the interview, a pleasure to read.

I seriously doubt in this current economy, Stax would ever release an amp as good as, let alone better than, the T2. My guess is the new amp would be an improvement from 717/727, reaching quite near the level of the KGSSHV, but still a step below the BH/T2.
post #64 of 229

I really enjoyed that article, thanks guys.
 

post #65 of 229
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Room40 View Post

I once toured the Cadbury's Chocolate factory in Tasmania and you were allowed to take chocolate (as much as you could eat) while doing the tour. Was there a similar arrangement for this tour?

 

Great article - geek utopia

 

I wish! We were joking it'd be nice if they gave us a complementary pair of SR-009s. The apron was unexpected and very cool. It just occurred to me that when we took the outside shot at the end we should have put them on first. It was surreal for me visiting the factory where my 009s were made though. We were told beforehand that there wouldn't be a factory tour, only interview, so the tour part surprised us. Maybe it is because we all own Stax gear that they did that for us. It's nice to think that at least. 

post #66 of 229
Quote:

Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
[...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by bowei006 View Post

I'm very surprised they can do that with 13 employees

 

[...] IMO to really appreciate what they've achieved you have to unbox a pair of 009s, where even the plastic cover around the box and inner box are both perfectly folded and taped and even the inner wooden box and foam are all absolutely perfectly designed and fitted. Overall its their painstaking attention to the finest details in their products that makes them what they are.

 

[...]

 

I was struck by this as well. It actually tells a lot about their attention to detail. It takes time to unpack an SR-009 if you want to preserve the packaging properly.

post #67 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

Well, the parts manufacture is outsourced to various companies, so an oversimplified view of what they do is design, assembly and testing. IMO to really appreciate what they've achieved you have to unbox a pair of 009s, where even the plastic cover around the box and inner box are both perfectly folded and taped and even the inner wooden box and foam are all absolutely perfectly designed and fitted. Overall its their painstaking attention to the finest details in their products that makes them what they are.

 

 

I want the fancy headphone stands that were in the cabinets! I'd never seen them before.

 

 

Mr Meguro struck me as being a completely practically-minded businessman, so my speculation for the reasons for the Edifier buy-out was it that was straight-forward business decision aimed at keeping Stax going in the future by entering into the Chinese market. I wouldn't be surprised if designing a T2 successor would have been quite risky for them without better financial support.

"...my speculation for the reasons for the Edifier buy-out was it that was straight-forward business decision aimed at keeping Stax going in the future by entering into the Chinese market."

 
If that was the reason for the selling-out then they over-calculated. There was no need for this. The report says that there is a waiting list for Stax headphones and as far as I know the chinese government did not forbid selling of Stax headphones in China. The country is in the WTO [World Trade Organization] now and would be obliged to allow Stax products to be sold in China. In the future there will be chinese meddling into all matters Stax. Stax being owned by a chinese Co. means for me, and others, not buying Stax headphones in the future.
A pertinent quote, from the wonderful play/film "A Man For All Seasons" written by Robert Bolt, when sir Thomas More finds that Richard Rich 'sold his soul' by perjury in court to obtain a high position as the Attorney General of Wales and says : [I paraphrase the quote a bit]  - "For China ? Why Mr. Sasaki and Mr. Meguro, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for China!"  - http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1358325-a-man-for-all-seasons

Edited by zorin - 2/9/13 at 6:55am
post #68 of 229

This has been discussed several times:

- The acquisition was necessary to ensure a stable operation as the sr009 lead Stax in the red the year it was released. There may be a waiting list, the product is expensive, but with such a low volume sale, it's hard to imagine the company is making large profits.

- The owner of edifier is a stax fan and he was mostly concerned about the perennity of the company rather than a plan to change the business. The interview confirms this.

 

In regards to the future amp not getting to the level of the T2, considering the DIY T2 would need to sell for 10k to be sustainable, I can understand the  point being raised. However, Stax clearly said it would need to exceed the performance of the T2 as sold by stax at the time (so bit different from the diy T2).

post #69 of 229

I would guess its likely then the new amplifier may be manufactured in China or assembled by Stax in Japan to get something better than the T2 that people can afford or justify purchasing. 

Will  be interesting to see if it is a more radical design or uses novel components like the latest Nelson Pass amps?  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

In regards to the future amp not getting to the level of the T2, considering the DIY T2 would need to sell for 10k to be sustainable, I can understand the  point being raised. However, Stax clearly said it would need to exceed the performance of the T2 as sold by stax at the time (so bit different from the diy T2).

post #70 of 229

We can just start off with that an amp approaching the T2 level of performance will never be built as a commercial product.  It's simply too costly, too complicated and too bonkers for anybody to even try it.  It costs 4K+$ just in parts and the labor needed to assemble one easily matches that.  Kevin and I have also discussed at length just what makes the T2 so special and there really isn't a good answer to that question.  Power is only part of the equation and I think the utter willingness to throw a bunch of parts at a simple problem is probably a large factor. 

 

Now this only applies to the T2 circuit (and our DIY version) as the actual Stax product was a highly flawed beast and there are numerous ways to improve on it.  They all hum badly, the power supply is a mess and will end up with burnt out transformers, the amps run at only half power due to the lack of proper heatsinking and the build quality is lacking so the circuit needed to be "fixed" so it wouldn't oscillate.  Improving on these issues would yield a better product over all even though it wouldn't out perform the T2. 

 

The problems they face are the same as KG and I are dealing with regularly when designing new amps.  Good parts are disappearing very quickly and what we are left with works but not nearly as well as the discontinued stuff.  As it stands now there are pretty much no good HV transistors in production which work as output devices for electrostatic amps.  Mosfets are naturally useless for this role and the few BJT's that will work all have some issues.  For tubes it isn't any better as there is no small tube available that fits the bill until we get to the EL34.  The ECC99 works but is ultimately limited in both voltage and power and the small pentodes are all unsuitable for various reasons.  When you get to the EL34 you have the problem of driving them properly.  One of the first prototype T2's was just a T1 with El34 tubes but the T1 front end can't cope with that load.  I must say thought that I do have some idea of what they are going to do but that is not something for public discussion.  redface.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

It is interesting Stax was so open regarding burn in - electrostatic transducers can not be produced reliably any other way.

 

This has nothing to do with burn in, they are simply weeding out the standard infant mortality rate found in any manufacturing. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

I want the fancy headphone stands that were in the cabinets! I'd never seen them before.

 

They are the prototypes for the current Stax stand, kind of nice but I'd take the prototype SRM-353S amp over them.  redface.gif

post #71 of 229

Nice article

 

I'll never have that much money to actually buy a SR-009, but still nice to see such a small company beeing so open.

post #72 of 229

Yeh - Black Gates have gone and heard today that the company who were making the Sit's and Jfet's in the current range of FirstWatt by Nelson Pass have ceased making the components.

We will all end up with OpAmp based rather than discrete component based amplifiers if this is the trend?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post

The problems they face are the same as KG and I are dealing with regularly when designing new amps.  Good parts are disappearing very quickly and what we are left with works but not nearly as well as the discontinued stuff.  As it stands now there are pretty much no good HV transistors in production which work as output devices for electrostatic amps.  Mosfets are naturally useless for this role and the few BJT's that will work all have some issues.  For tubes it isn't any better as there is no small tube available that fits the bill until we get to the EL34.  The ECC99 works but is ultimately limited in both voltage and power and the small pentodes are all unsuitable for various reasons.  When you get to the EL34 you have the problem of driving them properly.  One of the first prototype T2's was just a T1 with El34 tubes but the T1 front end can't cope with that load.  I must say thought that I do have some idea of what they are going to do but that is not something for public discussion.  redface.gif

post #73 of 229

Yes they all require an external energizer and stax has made several variants over the years. A quick Ebay search will present you with a fairly good catalogue of the offerings.

 

       The Stax record label is different from the AudioStax label which was used to make binaural recordings to showcase their headphones. If you can find a copy of their space/sound cd it is quite an experience regarding how binaural recording can be used to establish a 360 degree soundstage.

post #74 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post

 There have been discussions about the possibility of break-in of electrostatic headphones. Now we get the information of a one + one week break-in at the factory!

 

I don't think this information means they need break in/burn in. They do it as part of their quality control to make sure there is no transducer failure.


Edited by gilency - 2/9/13 at 11:36am
post #75 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilency View Post

I don't think this information means they need break in/burn in. They do it as part of their quality control to make sure there is no transducer failure.

If Stax menaged to get manufacture of an electrostatic transducer that has response down to couple of Hz to be right from the first second it plays any signal, that would be a miracle. Sure QC has easier time weeding out any transducers that might not work from the start or might tend to failure later on, but prime intention for week of pink noise followed by a week of music must have something to do with getting the response, particularly in low end, right. My experience with building electrostatic transducers says they need at least burn-in time they take at Stax to trully function properly. Of course they have better jigs and overall precision than possible with DIY, but the same principle still applies. An electrostatic transducer starts its life with the plastic diaphragm ( usually mylar ) tensioned to a higher tension than really necessary or desirable for full range performance - because if the tension decreses below point of stability ( a tradeoff among efficiency, low frequency extension and polarizing voltage ), a diaphragm would start oscillating at some low frequency or in extreme case "glue" itself to either stator electrode. I used this approach with higher initial tension, decreasing it with burn in to a design target point. The whole thing is simple in principle, but very hard to do in practice with consistent results over time.

 

There would be many competitors to Stax if manufacturing electrostatics was a piece of cake.

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