With a completely new multi-layer diaphragm, electrodes and aluminium enclosure, the SR-009 goes...

Stax SR-009 Electrostatic Headphones

Average User Rating:
4.7/5,
  • With a completely new multi-layer diaphragm, electrodes and aluminium enclosure, the SR-009 goes further than even the highly regarded SR-007 "Omega II" in resolving the finest details in music with pin-point imaging. Voices and instruments are reproduced with astounding realism, limited only by the resolution of the source used. The absolute pinnacle of headphone listening.

Recent User Reviews

  1. headphonatic
    4.0/5,
    "Amazing Transients at the Cost of your Sanity"
    Pros - Speed and Resolution (Effortless Playback)
    Clarity
    Extremely Revealing
    Tonal Balance
    The Solid State Equivalent of Headphones (with the exception of dynamics)
    Cons - Lack of Dynamic Punch Compared to Today's Offerings (Focal Utopia)
    Price
    Slightly Sterile Sounding (Voicing may be an issue for some)
    When the Stax SR-009 first came out, there wasn't anything on the market really capable of matching its resolution and clarity. Give or take 7 years later, there still isn't really on the market that match the detailed, transparent sonic image only electrostats can provide. The strengths of the SR-009 have remained the strengths of all electrostatic headphones, and its weakness have only continued to widen as dynamic headphones continue to fill in the gaps that the SR-009 has left in its wake as of 2011.

    In terms of positives, the SR-009 are still the most transparent headphones on the market. I've always hated phrases that describe transparency, "it sounds like an open window to the music" or "just the music" due to their vagueness. Whenever reading comments such as those on the SR-009 I always wondered what it was that my headphones weren't doing right. Was it the sound signature that was limiting my open window? Maybe my headphones lack of transient speed? The goal of ultimate transparency is to have the listener forget that he/she is wearing headphones, I personally believe that the only real way to understand transparency is to hear it, and believe it or not, it's not exactly what everyone goes for. Transparency implies an ultra-revealing, and natural sonic image, and thus can be tiring. Constantly having an ultra low distortion microscopic view into your music can wear you out. Every headphone seems to have a flavor except for the SR-009. It offers perfection in speed, transients, decay, resolution and realism, but lacks flavor and coloration. Which tests your values as an audiophile, do you listen to the headphones or the music? Do you expect your headphones to sound like something? Or should they just go away? Then what is the point of owning headphones?

    Oh right! To listen to music...

    It's like what Rick Ross said about good BBQ, "without the sauce, you lost, but you can get lost in the sauce". If the headphones lack technical prowess you're being left out on something greater, but if you keep chasing that ideal sound you're gonna forget about the music.

    Just about every headphone I've been through, I've always found flaws in its sonic signature that lacked the "technical" 5% to give a 100% ideal musical experience. Even the HD800 (with SDR modifications) I found to be somewhat lacking in ultimate speed, and only now owning the SR-009s, transparency. Electrostats are on another plane of sonic existence compared to everything, they have it and everything else doesn't really have it (yet). The SR-009s have the speed to resolve just about anything the song offers due to their ultra-fine film diaphragm. However it seems that these ultra fine diaphragms have their fair share of weaknesses

    Mainly Dynamics...

    They lack the bounce of a big booty. Head splitting, ear shattering, and explosive aren't the kind of phrases you'd use to describe the SR-009. It's sound is more like clean, fast, and effortless, yet that sound is somewhat physically 2-dimensional. They lack the ability of headphones such as the Utopia to reach out and tickle your ears. To burst out of the mold the diaphragm provides. which leads me to ask...

    Where's the meat?

    The sound of the SR-009 is like eating the most delicious meal in the world, but not having it fill you. The SR-009 lacks that filling euphoria that you get when you bite into a thick steak (e.g. Focal Utopia, Audeze anything). There's a whole meal after the meal, namely when your sitting on your couch after dinner recuperating and watching Sunday night football that the SR-009s seem to lack, it leaves you hungry. I'm not saying that they're thin or un-involving, their tonal balance prevents that, however compared to today's offerings, the SR-009 lack big boy and big booty dynamics, which seems to be a common characteristic in these new gen thin film diaphragms (Hifiman HE-1000). While the HE-1000 is just polite and smooth, the SR-009 is a straight edge of a headphone that still remains sonically involving due to it's sheer resolving capabilities.

    Now onto Sound
    Signature

    Basically perfect, the SR-009 has the most linear SS I've ever heard, especially the treble. The massive dip at 6k is perfect, prevent harshness and sibilance (which plagued the HD800). It naturally resolving quality leave no vagueness in the treble either. The bass is extremely linear as well (just look at the graphs, it's like fiction). It's an extremely clean sounding bass that reaches very low, though not as low as Audese's offerings, but they go toe to toe with any other dynamic headphone. Bass resolution is also ungodly impressive. The SR-009 are like the CIA's version of Photoshop, where they can zoom into anything and maintain resolution.

    SoundStaging and Imaging

    Here's where they lose to the other World's best headphone. The HD800's bests them in soundstage width, and overall imaging. The HD800s are the closest thing to speakers, whereas the SR-009s are still blatantly headphones (which is fine, it's why you still listen to headphones). The sound is still in your head with the SR-009. The imaging of the SR-009 however is very impressive due to its speed, though not as much as the HD800s, which have that extra bit of space allowing more precise placements of various sounds. However, I do feel like the SR-009 do a better job in the sizing of the instruments and tones. I felt that the HD800s made tone and instruments larger then they actually were, whereas the SR-009 has more accurate sizing (not placement though. The Utopia's also do a good job of this, and are actually better then the SR-009s at this.

    My Equipment and Biases

    I run the SR-009s through a KGST, but have heard them through the Blue Hawaii, and various other DIY efforts. Now you can criticize me (and my 5k setup *cries*) for not having the last word in amping the SR-009s, but I highly doubt that they would ever have better dynamics then the Utopia, the Audeze's, or even the HD800 (which did actually have greater slam) on a well driven amp. The SR-009 was never design to have amazing slam or powerful dynamics, and while it has good dynamics, they just can't match traditional dynamic headphones in this category. It was never a focus to begin with, and that quality is very apparent when listening to the SR-009s

    Conclusion

    It all depends on what your looking for. If you want the clearest window into music, estats my friend, but you must be willing to trade the disguising, bass slam and definition for it .
  2. Large Ensemble
    4.5/5,
    "If one can afford the set, this is a state of the art headphones/earspeakers set. "
    Pros - Very well made and thought through. Beautiful, natural sound. It works very well with the equally well sounding complementing SRM-007tII.
    Cons - The prize tag is a burden. But great quality has and should have a prize.
    I own the Stax SR-009 along with the SRM-007tII since February 2013 and I am still very happy with the purchase.

    I want to say, that I use the SRM-007tII as the amplifiier and my source is an AVM Audio CD 5.2 Evolution CD Player, which I also use for streaming with my Macbook. I have a set of Kimble 1126 XLR cables, Fisch Audiotechnik Performance 2 main plugs and a MFE powerboard. So I can say, that I have my fair share of High Fidelity at its price.

    That being said, let me state, that, counting the SR-5 Gold, the Signature I, II and for a couple of weeks a pair of SR-007, this is my fifth Stax set in a row. I haven't compared Stax headphones/earspeakers with competitors for more than 10 years. In that regard, I am not objective, nor do I claim to be.

    The set comes in a wooden box, which seems appropriate considering a 5'000 € earspeakers set.

    The SR 009 has a very natural sound. I can't complain about the basses, maybe they could be stronger. Perhaps I am just used to the sound of a Stax. In general, the instruments are very clearly separated and balanced (I hear instrumental Free Jazz, Improvised Music and Post Bebop). The musical proponents more often than not go to the limits of the their respective instruments and beyond them, which is well heard through the SR-009 set. At least I couldn't detect any overstated mids or highs.

    The set is a very easy to wear, the leather pads are well crafted and a jiy to wear (I clean them with a wet drying towel from time to time). I am worrying that the Stax energizer, which is not a subject here, can get very hot after a couple of hours of listening; I am just saying.

    As I have said, at the beginning, I had the SR-007 for some time. But honestly, I always missed something and accordingly upgraded to the SR-009. And believe me, it was and is worth the difference in price and sound. The SR-009 looks much better (the mix of used colors and materials are for favorable), sounds much clearer and more balanced. If you can spend so much money and willing to do so, the SR-009 is a serious shoe in.

    I have read in other forums, that stereo devices that much expensive are not worth the "admission". I can't totally disagree, as everyone has to figure out, if he or she can and is willing to spent that much money for a stereo equipment.

    All I can share here is, that the Stax was and is a pleasure to use and hear. In many ways, it has opened a whole new universe of listening experience to me. Each Stax set had its time and now it is the SR-009 and the SRM-007tII, which offer a great deal.
    knopi likes this.
  3. Kiats
    5.0/5,
    "Peerless (When the Conditions are Right)"
    Pros - Quick; Nuanced; Smooth; Transparent; Detailed
    Cons - Cost; Needs TOTL amp to excel; Needs good quality source to shine
    As I have pointed out before in my review of the Stax SR L700, electrostatics and Stax are the latest port of call in my journey of discovery in the world of audio bliss. I recall it was April or May 2015 when Spkrs01 opened the door to the intriguing world of Stax. Prior to this, Stax was only something that I heard about occasionally, but always referred to in hushed tones of deference, especially when the subject was the venerable Stax SR-009. Everyone swore blind that it is the best headphone in current production, bar none. Pity about the lack of bass but what ethereal sonics: so the conventional wisdom went. Admittedly, when I heard the SR-009 off a Stax amp, this seemed to be borne out – great atmospheric trebles and very quick, but where did the bass go?!
    In this journey into Stax territory, two persons get honourable mention as my trusted and patient guides: Spkrs01 and AnakChan. No question was too trivial or frivolous. Poor Spkrs01, in particular, bears the brunt of my insatiable curiosity.
     
    I have since learned that fed sufficient driving power, the SR-009 is peerless in its transparency, details and texture. While it will never match the visceral bass of the Abyss, it possessed a bass that was detailed and layered. And I would never accuse the SR-009 of sounding “thin” when properly set up and driven.
     
    I started off with the SR-009 and SR-007 Mk1. Since then I have added the SR-007 Mk2 and the SR L700 to the stable of Stax cans. On an aside, I have a tidy little collection of non-electrostatic cans comprising most of the top tier Grados, the LCD 2 & 3, HD800, Hifiman HE-6, HE-5LE, HE-560, HE-500, HE-1000, Fostex TH900, AKG K702 & K812, and the Final Sonorous X and the Abyss.
     
     
    Home Desktop Stax Set Up
     
    The Stax setup  starts with an Auralic Aries (with external linear PSU), connected via a Audiquest Diamond USB 3 cable to a Bricasti M1 DAC and then a pair of Tralucent Uber balanced interconnects to the Cavalli Liquid Lightning 2, and then pass through to the VAW 8PS via a pair of Toxic Cables Silver Venom balanced interconnects. Power cord for the DAC and the Liquid Lightning 2 is a Tralucent Uber power cord, while power to the VAW 8PS is supplied by a Tralucent Silver/Gold power cord. Power to the components of the desktop rig and sources is fed through an Isotek Aquarus and all the power cords use US plugs. Mains power is fed to the Isotek Aquarius via a Tralucent Uber power cord.
     
    My Synology DS 414 and a Seagate Backup Plus HDD (connected directly via USB to the Aries) are powered by the new Plixir Elite BDC Power Supply kindly customized for me by James Soh of Sound Affairs in Singapore. James had also helpfully suggested that I run a separate switch for the audio components away from the wifi access point. The switch is also powered by the Plixir Elite BDC Power Supply that James customized for me. The Aries and the Synology DS414 NAS are connected via the dedicated switch by a pair of Ranko Acoustics OCC audio LAN cables.
     
     
    Build Quality
     
    The build quality of the SR-009 is really top notch. Even my personal preference for the headband of the SR-007 doesn’t detract from this.
     
     
    Comfort and Isolation
     
    The round ear cups of the SR-009 sit very comfortably  over my ears. The use of lambskin for the earpads help in that respect. The other thing that helps is the light clamping force, while being sufficiently firm.  At the same time, it is amazingly light in my hand or on my head. It puts some of the planar magnetics like the Audezes and the older Hifiman to shame in this area.
    The Stax SR-009 is an open can and isolation practically non-existent. The fact that I can hear almost every word the Mrs says when I have them on is testament to that.
     
     
    Music Genres
     
    My digital music collection extends about 12-15 TB. In my collection, you will find most genres from classical music all the way to acoustic vocals, modern jazz vocals and mandopop music. I even do rock and pop.
     
    I wish I could say that the SR-009 is incredibly versatile and can handle anything I throw at it with finesse and aplomb. That would be music to the ears of those who complain about how much it costs. Well, I am not going to say that. However, I will say that it does classical music, jazz , mandopop and vocals very well. In fact, no other can does female vocals like the Stax Omegas, in particular the SR-009. I still recall Spkrs01 warning me that one may pee in one’s pants listening to the magical quality of female vocals on the SR-009.
     
    One word of caution: the SR-009 is very transparent – if you feed it badly recorded music, it will chew it up and spit it back in your face. This is no shy retiring ice princess. If you music sucks, it will let it all through, magnified, back to you.
     
     
    Sound Quality
     
    I own the HD800 and I have it paired with a crystal piccolino balanced cable. I also thought it was the last word on refinement and transparency. At least until I heard the Stax SR-009. I recall that I used to wince now and then at certain sibilance in vocals by Alison Krauss in her plaintive and lilting voice beloved by Bluegrass aficionados. At other times, there would be certain hard edges in the trebles. 
     
    Well, with the SR-009, there are no such issues to fix. Ms Krauss sings with the voice of an angel as she is.  The trebles on the SR-009 are extended and yet are clear and pristine with nary a harsh edge. While I am not a big fan of treble extension as some other hobbyists, this smooth and flawless treble extension can be very useful if you listen to someone like Sarah Brightman…
     
    The mids of the SR-009 are lethal: other than the possibility of incontinence, you get lulled in this state of swooning when you listen to lovely voices belonging to Anita Mui, Sandy Lam, Stacey Kent, Diana Krall and their ilk. The nuances, inflection of their voices and emoting of their heart felt feelings can be almost unbearable.  With regard to the music generally, the SR-009 conveys great texture and timbre. The soundstage is wide as it is dense, layered and deep.
     
    The bass of the SR-009 is the one area which attracts a lot of adverse comments. Like I had said earlier, do not expect this to be like the Abyss. Nothing will come close to the Abyss for its visceral bass. Yet, the SR-009 does have a deep and tight bass. Whenever I play the album, Audiophile Percussions by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors, which features 9 divine tracks exploring the various types of percussion instruments on the SR-009, it leaves me picking up my jaw from the floor. I defy anyone to listen to that album on the SR-009 off a TOTL electrostatic amp and say thereafter that the SR-009 has no bass… What you will also notice when you play this album is how quick the SR-009 is.
     
    At the end of the day, the SR-009 is a very unusual can. It is very transparent. It is quick. It is smooth, refined and nuanced. However, it will hiss and spit at you if you dare to try to insult it by playing crappy music.
     
     
    Pairing
     
    The SR-009 does appreciate the driving power of the Cavalli LL2 and VAW 8PS. It is so transparent that the differences in character between my two amps are easily apparent: the slightly more laid presentation of the LL2 in mid concert hall, while the VAW is more immediate in its presentation where you are seated in the first few rows of the same concert hall. Both pairings are absolute joy and very musical. This is very important to me. I fear that I am not quite an audiophile who listens to my gear: what I want and demand from my rig is that I should enjoy the music and be moved by its presentation.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    Thus far, I am happy to say that, despite Spkrs01’s promise, I have yet to suffer any incontinence while listening to my favourite female singers, like Diana Krall or Sandy Lam, on the SR-009. However, when I feed the rig well recorded and mastered music, whether red book or high res, the SR-009 is peerless in moving me. It doesn’t get any better than this.
    Pokemonn likes this.

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