Amp options for the Stax O2?
Aug 18, 2006 at 1:24 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14


Headphoneus Supremus
Apr 25, 2002
Ontario, Canada
I'm going back for round two of my Senn 650 v Stax O2 audition and wondered...

What amp options are there that don't have exposed tubes?

HeadAmp KGSS
Stax 007t/717

If I had to change anything based on listening to the KGSS, I'd want more bottom end and perhaps a less forward vocal presentation. But then again it was on a different source than my own. This time around I'm bringing my Senn 650|Cardas, Reference and Tri-Vista to make the Senn v Stax comparison fair.
Aug 18, 2006 at 2:31 AM Post #2 of 14
why no exposed tubes?

can you have a cage/shield built to cover the tubes on the es-1? the es1 handled my omega 2's VERY well. it did this while it pimped the he90's too.
Aug 18, 2006 at 2:34 AM Post #3 of 14
By chance are you concerned with young children in your house playing in the vicinity of exposed tubes? If so, one solution is to place the amp well above their reach. In our case, the ES-1 sits safely on top of a filing cabinet that our son cannot even begin to reach.

When I was shopping for my amp, a number of manufacturers expressed a willingness to incorporate tube covers and/or fabricate some sort of case to shield them.

But to answer your question, I know of no other electrostatic amp that meets your criterion.
Aug 18, 2006 at 11:12 AM Post #5 of 14
No exposed tube cause wife thinks they're ugly and if I buy them my sense of taste will be questioned

In the war of your audio rig vs. the wife, the wife always wins

Problem with covered tubes is heat and cost. HeadAmp probably could make me an enclosed KGBH but that would up the already over budget $2500. Hoping to keep it at or under $1500 new or used.

The new 007tA fits the bill and is one sweet package but a little birdy told me the Stax amps are poor value in the face of KG designs. But then again I found the KGSS/O2 on the bright side where others say dark. So maybe the 007tA would be my happy place?
Aug 18, 2006 at 4:28 PM Post #6 of 14
And heaven forbid that you should ever be compared with a tube.

I don't believe that Headamp is building the KGBH any more. Justin needs to take it off the order page of his web site.

If you find the KGSS too bright, then you might like the SRM-717. Personally, I find the 717 a bit too dark with the Omega II, but that's just MHO. Another possibility might be to soften the KGSS a little with a Musical Fidelity X-10 buffer after your source.
Aug 18, 2006 at 4:47 PM Post #7 of 14
I guess a lot of it has to do with where you are coming from.

Is the KGSS/O2 bright compared to neutral? I don't know. I'm coming from Senn 650/Dynamid and in comparison, the O2 seemed to be more forward in the vocals. This was most noticable on Tool's 10,000 Days which on the Senn 650 vocals are a good 10dB below the music, trackable using Emu's Patchmix metres, where on the O2 they were right up in line with the music.

But that was on a Denon 3910 and not my Tri-Vista 21. I'll be going back this Saturday for a more honest comparison before I settle on either headphone and chose a direction for the amp.

The devil on my other shoulder says I should ignore my budget and just keep both rigs Senn 650/Reference, Stax O2/KGSS. My poor wallet
Aug 18, 2006 at 5:47 PM Post #8 of 14
I've heard AC1's O2 and KGSS (with blackgates) and never once found it bright. If anything, it's very lush, has a great bottom end, yet remains detailed. You might want to talk to Justin about modding the KGSS (e.g. adding blackgates?) to tone down the treble issues.

IMO, it sounds like it's an issue of the source, however.

I took a look at your profile, but what cables are you using with the Stax? Perhaps try a copper/silver hybrid, or throw some other alloys in the mix (e.g. gold)? grandenigma1 might have some suggestions for you (although he's away from home on business for a month or 2).
Aug 18, 2006 at 7:33 PM Post #9 of 14
The source is a Denon 3910 with Headphile BlackSilver ICs. This Saturday I'll bring my source, the Tri-Vista 21 and see what changes. Bright isn't the right word though. More forward, since there was no fatigue or overly hot treble.

So far all roads point to the KGSS as the amp of choice.
Aug 21, 2006 at 2:00 AM Post #12 of 14
Round two went much better. Took some getting used to but 4 hours of playing familiar material on the Stax and then on the Senn really helped nail down each can's character.

Long and the short of it is I am talking to Justin about my KGSS as we speak. Is the SinglePower ES-1 better overall? Maybe but its not $1500 is it
That and if experience has tought me anything... it's that I'm not a tube guy. Give me good well executed solid state and I'm happy.

That said if the Stello DA220 somehow is pwned by the Tri-Vista 21 tubes will still be in house. But they're little ones so that's ok
Aug 21, 2006 at 2:20 AM Post #13 of 14
fyi i heard that the es-1 is around 4k base and 8k maxed
Aug 25, 2006 at 2:29 PM Post #14 of 14
its 4k base and 12k maxed out

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