Best Electrostatic Driver/Amplifier < $1000?
Jun 20, 2015 at 1:07 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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I suppose the title speaks for itself :)


 


But for orchestral type music what is the best electrostatic amp in the lower price ranges? I have no particular preferences for tubes or no tubes. Merely what's more revealing and detailed but not harsh, in the price range.


 


<$500 (Nothing? Although I heard that Stax is coming out with something new in this range for portables to replace their SR-002 driver units...)


 


<$1000 (This is the more interesting question!)


 


I am going to be trying to make my own homemade electrostat for fun. As some other people have done.


 


A project like this doesn't justify getting the TOTL (like the HeadAmp Blue Hawai or the WooAudio WES)
I also don't feel comfortable plugging in hand made high voltage objects into such nice equipment.

 


Just something revealing without much noise itself, so I know what I'm doing wrong ^ during making.


EDIT:

How is the KingSound M-10 compared to <$1000 Stax (Midfi) electrostatic amps?
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 5:50 PM Post #2 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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How does the Stax-srm-323s compare to other electrostatic drivers / amps ~$1000 or less?

Woo audio offers a unit for converting a speaker amplifier into a driver, I know but for anything less than a very good speaker amplifier, the detail would be lacking. Right?
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 6:01 PM Post #3 of 17

Music Alchemist

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I plan on getting the STAX SRM-323S at the same time as the STAX SR-009. If I like it enough to bother, I would then eventually upgrade to the very expensive DIY T2, skipping the more readily available top-of-the-line electrostatic amps.
 
Which electrostatic headphones do you own currently? Which ones do you plan on buying in the future?
 
In case you weren't aware, the 323S can be purchased from PriceJapan.com for under $450 instead of $875 from STAXUSA.com.
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 8:11 PM Post #4 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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I don't own any yet. Listen to them often (009 a friend nearby has). I've mostly the various planar magnetics and woody ATs.

Will be making my own headphone for fun. (Primarily because I want to try some things and can compare my version easily with what exists because ^. And I have the equipment to work with shockproof ceramics, titanium, machining, etc, so the fun project wouldn't be too costly for some pretty complicated designs... even in the worst case scenario that I can't make anything good... In the best case: hexagonal boron nitride shells? No plastic... :) )

How reliable is PriceJapan? (I assume there is no USA warranty after you buy? Or does StaxUSA honor a Stax japanese warranty?)

Since Japanese units are 100v a voltage convertor (VC) is required. (Or is it? I see on StaxUsa photos the units are made in Japan of course but listed as 117V, so maybe the Japanese units work both for 100V and 120V? I don't know. Maybe somebody can advise.)

A VC is probably additional noise really, since it's not intended to power an amplifier, yes, more likely a high end rice cooker or something? (I have a power conditioner for my setups here, and it does lower the noise on my DACs. For example. Self noise would defeat the purpose of a cleaner amp, conversely, wouldn't it.)
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 8:36 PM Post #5 of 17

Music Alchemist

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I don't own any yet. Listen to them often (009 a friend nearby has). I've mostly the various planar magnetics and woody ATs.

Will be making my own headphone for fun. (Primarily because I want to try some things and can compare my version easily with what exists because ^. And I have the equipment to work with shockproof ceramics, titanium, machining, etc, so the fun project wouldn't be too costly for some pretty complicated designs... even in the worst case scenario that I can't make anything good... In the best case: hexagonal boron nitride shells? No plastic...
smily_headphones1.gif
)

How reliable is PriceJapan? (I assume there is no USA warranty after you buy? Or does StaxUSA honor a Stax japanese warranty?)

Since Japanese units are 100v a voltage convertor (VC) is required. (Or is it? I see on StaxUsa photos the units are made in Japan of course but listed as 117V, so maybe the Japanese units work both for 100V and 120V? I don't know. Maybe somebody can advise.)

A VC is probably additional noise really, since it's not intended to power an amplifier, yes, more likely a high end rice cooker or something? (I have a power conditioner for my setups here, and it does lower the noise on my DACs. For example. Self noise would defeat the purpose of a cleaner amp, conversely, wouldn't it.)

 
You aren't thinking about creating your own electrostatic headphones, are you? That would be crazy! PJ does not offer refunds or a direct warranty; you would have to send everything back to them, then they would send it to STAX for repairs, etc. As far as the power supplies go, I believe STAX USA has everything so it would work in the US without needing anything extra. But yes, if imported from Japan, you would have to either use a voltage transformer or power supply with negative polarity. I know someone who is willing to sell me one of his SRM-323S amps that has had the voltage modified so it works in the US without needing anything else. Anyway, you basically asked about electrostatic amps under $1,000 that are better than the SRM-323S...and I don't know of any. The Woo WEE would require a good (ie expensive) speaker amp to have better sound quality than a cheap speaker amp. The 323 would probably be the cheapest and best option...but I would still only recommend it as a starter amp if you were getting high-end electrostatic headphones along with it. If you are getting more affordable electrostatic headphones, there are other options. For example, the STAX SRS-2170 system includes the SR-207 headphones and SRM-252S amp, and that can be had for under $500 total. There are also used STAX energizer units that can be powered with speaker amps, and there are speaker amps available for under $100. The best option will depend on your situation. You did not specify which electrostatic headphones you intend on buying in the future.
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 8:52 PM Post #6 of 17

paradoxper

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If you're going to try to make your own stat - check out the DIY thread.
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 9:46 PM Post #7 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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Yes, I am aware of that thread. Impressive results. I remember Tyll H. testing them. (innerfidelity.com/content/extraordinary-diy-electrostatic-headphones-chinsettawong)

Not expensive and looks like a fun DIY if you have the equipment for it. I want to test some interesting constructions.

But for that I need some kind of driver unit. Have no electrostatic amps or particularly good speaker amps. Building the amp electronics doesn't sound as fun for me however.

And I'm not for plugging in homemade units into anything > 1000 until I know they work properly.
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 10:51 PM Post #8 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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1) Just interested, did anyone try the SR-003mk2 with one of the bigger electrostatic amps, Stax or other? Heard the smaller or portable amps make it sound a bit weak. (And I already have the various orthos that reviews said are better than it on the stock smallest amp.)

2) Also, what is this KingSound M-10? (Not interested in KingSoundheadphones themselves.) How does that sound with the various 307 or 407 or 003?

3) Speaking of PJ, it seems to get headphones from Kakaku.com. Anyone familiar with the sources on that site? Is that stuff refurbished or something like that?

I agree, to my knowledge Stax makes the best <1000 driver. But my knowledge is incomplete here perhaps ?
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 6:05 AM Post #9 of 17

davidsh

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I'll be following your project enviously with great interest.
When selecting your amp of choice I think you should focus on what u want to drive and how loud you will listen. Ultimately that is of greatest importance IMO

My own venture into diy stats consists of a speaker panel made from materials at hand and double sided foam tape. Didn't go well.
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 6:45 AM Post #10 of 17

Beyakusenn

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I assume your friend already has a good electrostatic amp, so why not get a simple second hand SRM-212 for cheap just to test your own project. For comparisons you could use the amp your friend uses for the SR-009.
 
If you just want to get into electrostatics and want the best energizer / amp possible under $1000, get a second hand one. You won't have any warranty, but most energizers don't break so easily.
 
I have a second hand SRS-4040 system myself in very good condition with the SRM-006t energizer / amp for €700 (~$800). I think that's good value for money if you consider that the current 4170 system is $1775 on STAX USA and $1128 on Price Japan
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 3:15 PM Post #12 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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I assume your friend already has a good electrostatic amp, so why not get a simple second hand SRM-212 for cheap just to test your own project. For comparisons you could use the amp your friend uses for the SR-009.


 


If you just want to get into electrostatics and want the best energizer / amp possible under $1000, get a second hand one. You won't have any warranty, but most energizers don't break so easily.


 


I have a second hand SRS-4040 system myself in very good condition with the SRM-006t energizer / amp for €700 (~$800). I think that's good value for money if you consider that the current 4170 system is $1775 on STAX USA and $1128 on Price Japan

 


Second hand may be the way to go for testing purposes, you're right. I'll be on the look out for deals in the next few weeks. (Got some time, while I make the rigid stators. Going to join in vacuum a rigid box and bars to it and polish flat. I have a pair of chinese wooden cups to put the transducers in. Although maybe I should just machine my ceramic -- see below.)

*** Please PM me, too :) if you find a nice USA equipment deal in good condition that is SRM-323S or better. I remember great reviews for the previous upper end Lambdas plus drivers (mid 2000's) from sixmoons. Going in my friend's amp if I know it is safe (meaning the diaphragm won't touch the titanium parts).

I probably need something stronger than the lowest end amp/drivers for testing, don't I? (Or am I wrong here...)

Titanium is rather high impedance and that's what I'm machining. I have a soft ceramic that is really smooth and shock resistant and extremely inert. I want to make spacers and most of the parts that are not wood or Ti out of it. That means however the overall impedance is going to be on the high side of things.

I have electroplating equipment for going the already done DIY route in the forum, if ^ doesn't match the electrical characteristics needed by standard constant 580v amps for acceptable sound.
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 7:35 PM Post #13 of 17

davidsh

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What impedance are you referring to? The only impedance that really matters is the resistivity of the diaphragm and the capacitance of the stators.

I remember analoguesurviver saying the Orpheus spacer/stator is made from Quartz with the stator gold coated.

How will you make the diaphragm and coating?

Depending on the amp that you plan on using you might perhaps consider which type of cable as well as length you'd want to use to minimise capacitance. I imagine that the voltage swing will be of most importance in most cases
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 8:14 PM Post #14 of 17

titaniumgrade5

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I plan to make the stators from titanium --- primarily because I have it and work with it most easily. Coating is possible if necessary.

Maybe work from W. Chinsettawong's DIY measurements. That means I don't know the electrical properties before I get something built and will iterate from there. Hate make a design only to realize it works but needs a better amp to work well, like the other titanium phones. Correct me if this is a the wrong analogy about materials, but the titanium based 007 and 009 need a nice amp. Or at least I never experienced anyone using them with a weak amp. Maybe I'm making false inferences...?
 
Jun 22, 2015 at 10:53 AM Post #15 of 17

davidsh

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There are 3 factors determining what u need from an amp. Prioritised based on importance:

1. How loud you need to listen
2. Efficiency of your 'stat (likely 100-ish dB/100Vrms)
3. Capacity of your 'stat (can be measured or deduced)

I guess you'll order a roll of Mylar for your diaphragms? How will you stretch it and what will you coat the diaphragm with?
 

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