Baby-Stax, are the little ones just entry level? (SR-003)
Jul 8, 2008 at 4:51 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

MaloS

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Mods: please don't put this in the other forum. These are just pointless in terms of discussion of portable / in-ear equipment because they are most practical as desktop systems.

In the spirit of informative threads, this is second installation to get people to know an alternative for their home listening, electrostatic headphones.

By the way, I swear, I am not trolling Stax, I am getting to giving dynamics some love. I just have to organize my thoughts about their place in an audiophile system.

This time I want to concentrate on the Stax SR-003, which comes as the headphone of two current-production Stax systems, SR-001mkII and SRS-005mkII (a.k.a SRS-005a, depending on where it is purchased). I am interested in further developing discussion about these because it seems to me they are often disqualified in favor of full-size electrostatic headphones, whilst not really being inferior.

These introductory systems can be had anywhere between $200-400 (depending on the system and the retailer).

Here are pictures of:

[size=x-large]Headphone:[/size]
003.JPG

[size=x-large]SR-001mkII System:[/size]
001MK2.jpg

[size=x-large]SRS-005mkII System:[/size]
SRS005II-1.jpg
SRS005II-2.jpg

SRS005II-3.jpg
SRS005II-4.jpg

- gh...this image is partitioned on the Stax website. I win anyways =).

The SR-001mkII can be used battery powered or with a power supply, and makes for a good portable/transportable system. Audiocats also developed mods for it that bring the amplifier in the system up quite a bit, potentially making the system as a candidate for the best portable on the market.

SRS-005mkII is a home system, using the smallest desktop amp currently in production from Stax. The combination is use a mere 12v 500mA PSU, meaning it won't make your wallet cry from energy bills (unlike larger amps which can become very serious power hogs). The system can be also easily transported between, say, work and home.

Unlike the full-size in production Stax that are one step up from this system, SR-202/303/404, this system has a darker, warmer sound. The response is fairly even across the range, and starts to roll off somewhere around 18 khz. It has very solid, impactful bass, and shares all the other qualities with other electrostatic headphones that result from its speed - resolution, detail retrieval, instrument separation, and sound stage precision. Bass extension won't disappoint you either - it easily reproduces down to 30 hz, and even 20 hz tones are plenty audible.

While its sound stage is not as large, and its extension is not as obvious, this system is not nearly as punishing to users of poor sources and records, making it an even easier choices for starters.

Other merits of this system include lack of sound leaking, small size. It may appear uncomfortable - but actually if you fiddle with it for a bit to get to know how it sits in yours ears, it should not trouble you at all (I used to think otherwise, but figured out how to make it fit such that it sounds great and yet my ears barely know it is there). The cost of the headphone itself is low - $130-150, the cable is removable (only the SR-003 is available, but if you have the portable system, you can get SR-003 and use the 001 cable with it).

Morale? Don't overlook this system when wanting to taste some Stax - if 202/303/404 scare you for some reason - you must take a look at this (unless you can afford an Omega 2).
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 6:46 AM Post #3 of 18

krmathis

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Really nice write-up!
smily_headphones1.gif

Of those have only heard the SR-001MK2 system. But have always been curious how the SR-003 perform with a "real" amplifier.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 6:52 AM Post #5 of 18

aaron313

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Quote:

Originally Posted by smeggy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The 003 is awesome. Doesn't sound like most other staxies. Huge bass, smoother than most and refined, though subdued top end.


Sounds like I'd like it, then.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 7:04 AM Post #6 of 18

smeggy

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Their biggest potential problem is that some find them uncomfortable. If nothing else you'll probably need to open the headband a bit to ease the pressure if you do get them.

Anyhow, they have all the speed and transparency without the sharpness of the lambdas and for that I'm grateful. As good as the Lambda is I still find them too bright for my tastes.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 7:08 AM Post #7 of 18

catscratch

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Yeah man, this rig is seriously overlooked. I honestly prefer the baby Stax over the 404. It has a similar tonality to the Omega 2; naturally it's not as good, but it is very musical while at the same time being fairly accurate. Fairly, but not spectacularly accurate. Tone I think is it's greatest strength as far as accuracy goes; instruments really do sound like they should, with perhaps a bit of a euphonic slant. The treble is rolled off, the bass is pretty deep but could be deeper, and the soundstage is definitely small, but that's about it as far as sonic negatives go.

I'm also surprised at how much it can scale. Yeah, it's not going to beat a balanced HD650 any time soon, but I think it will take the honors away from a lot of single-ended dynamic systems priced much higher. As long as you don't need as much soundstage as you get get your hands on, and don't need that extra sparkle in the highs like a good K340 could give you, you'll probably like the sound a lot.

Oh, and that bass. Well, this is one of the punchiest electrostats around. If you think electrostatics can't handle electronic dance music (using the term in the broadest possible sense) then you should listen to some psytrance on the 003. It can and will rattle your skull.

The mids are as good as it's going to get for the price. Vocals, especially female vocals, guitars - both acoustic and electric - flutes, woodwinds, violins, all come out really well. Of course, at the same time brass doesn't quite have the sparkle and cymbals sound like they're next door, but with the instruments it does well, the rig really shines.

This headphone is really a little gem especially for the price and should not be overlooked.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 7:23 AM Post #8 of 18

aaron313

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How does the treble (and bass, mids, too, I guess) change when the SR-003 is powered by the likes of a 323II/A and above, let alone, dare I say, a BHSE? This is a serious question, because we've all read about how it takes BH power to bring out the highs on the O2 (which is otherwise dark). Is this like that, but on a much smaller scale?
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 7:38 AM Post #9 of 18

catscratch

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The 313 actually makes the 003 sound more euphonic and warmer. It helps with crispness and definition compared to the stock 001 amp, but its main improvement is in punch and dynamic range. It really is very punchy and very effortless; very nice for rock music and good for classical as well, especially when you have harder-hitting pieces with lots of dynamic peaks.

I haven't heard the BH with the 003, but I did drive mine with an SRD-7 pro, and that was pretty surprising. The highs came out quite a bit and the dynamic range was simply awesome. The sound was less refined than the 313, and there was some FR irregularity in the upper mids/lower treble, but overall it was the best I've heard the 003 sound, punchy as hell and very musical.

Also, I tested a modified SR-001 which had a very different tonal balance compared to the regular 001 and the 003/313. It was actually pretty damn neutral, with a lot more presence and extension in the highs. That modded amp really brought the treble out, and whatever muddiness there was in the lower mids and mid/upper bass was gone.

So, basically I think this headphone can respond quite well to system changes and can be tailored to your preference, up to a point. It's never going to have enough treble extension, and while the soundstage can be a lot bigger than the 003 with lowly Stax amps can have you believe, it will never be huge.

I don't think the 003 can scale all the way, but it can scale pretty well. But, this is a $150 headphone we're talking about. Still, when you're talking about the likes of the Blue Hawaii, you're better off with getting the O2 in the first place. It's not that expensive for what you get; used models can be had at around $1300 if you look hard enough.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 7:58 AM Post #12 of 18

slwiser

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Got both the SR-001 and SR-003. I can agree that these are two very good low priced options to taste the Stax world. You really can't go wrong with either of these.
 
Jul 8, 2008 at 2:12 PM Post #15 of 18

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by yale.reinstein /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Where can you buy it for $130? Sounds like a steal.


I am 99% the SR-003 sold new for $135 on Audio Cubes II just some few months back. Thats probably where 'MaloS' got his pair, and hence remembered the price.
Because of the low USD value they have now raised their prices though.
 

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