Disappointed in the 4040 system . . . so far
Apr 29, 2006 at 2:52 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 57

seacard

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As you guys may have seen, I reviewed in another thread (see "Conclusions...") my favorite dynamic headphones after going through them over the last year. I was really excited about moving on to electrostats, especially given that I listen mainly to classical music and jazz. I decided to start middle of line - Stax 4040a.

Having spent about a week with them, I'm a little disappointed. They're certainly detailed, but I think much of the detail is attributed to their thinness, not their inherent ability to be detailed. In fact, I don't find them particularly more detailed than HD650s or K701s, and less detailed than the Qualia or the SA5000.

I'm not sure if I just don't like these headphones, don't like electrostats, or if the amp is the problem. But right now, they sound thin, underpowered, bright, etc. Male vocals sound sharp, losing much of the resonance and timbre that they carried with my favorite dynamic setups. Brass music is a little high-pitched as well. It's not sibilant, but it's not as enjoyable.

So far, there are about 7 or 8 dynamic headphones that I like better than these. I will keep giving them a chance for another 2 weeks, but unless there is some significant improvement these are going back. I guess I should have listened to Tyll when he told me that dynamics are the better way to go.

If anybody has some good advice for me, I would really appreciate it.
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:08 AM Post #2 of 57

Uncle Erik

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Why don't you ask around here and see if someone has an electrostat amp you can borrow? I think the Stax drive unit is solid state; maybe tubes would be a better match.

Best of luck and please let us know how this turns out for you.
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:21 AM Post #4 of 57

jaybar

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4040a is tube!

Hold the ear speakers so your ear is centered in the drivers. With your thumbs, pull down the sliders for a snug not. Looser=brighter.

The stax amps are rumored to be very power cord sensitive.

I have not found them to be as full and and punchy as dynamic headphones. The AKG 701's and the HD 650's have much more bass and more midrange presence, which I find somewhat unnatural.

The Stax 404's are a much more cerebral experience. They are thiner, but far more nimble and nuanced than the mid-range dynamics.

The Omega II's are way closer to the tonal balance of the HD 650's. If you like the tonal balnce of the 650's you will be more inclined with the O2's.What is sour souce, IC's and power cord.

Jay
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:30 AM Post #6 of 57

Lloyd297

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Quote:

Originally Posted by seacard
Having spent about a week with them, I'm a little disappointed. They're certainly detailed, but I think much of the detail is attributed to their thinness, not their inherent ability to be detailed. In fact, I don't find them particularly more detailed than HD650s or K701s, and less detailed than the Qualia or the SA5000.

I'm not sure if I just don't like these headphones, don't like electrostats, or if the amp is the problem. But right now, they sound thin, underpowered, bright, etc. Male vocals sound sharp, losing much of the resonance and timbre that they carried with my favorite dynamic setups. Brass music is a little high-pitched as well. It's not sibilant, but it's not as enjoyable.



I pretty well agree with your assessment but suggest the Stax amp to be partly to blame. I'd go so far as to say any Stax headphone amp is seriously detracting from the sound of the phones.

I've done extensive comparisons with my Stax SR-XIII phones through the Stax 006t (tube) amp and through a series of quality power amps (Nuforce RF9, Krell KSA-100S, Bel Canto Evo 200.2) and the difference was dramatic in favour of the latter.

Unfortunately, you'll need a "pro" Stax adapter to run the 404 phone with power amps and these are pretty rare and no longer manufactured (shame on Stax!).
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:37 AM Post #7 of 57

Tachikoma

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Quote:

Unfortunately, you'll need a "pro" Stax adapter to run the 404 phone with power amps and these are pretty rare and no longer manufactured (shame on Stax!).


I think a few of the DIYers here might be capable of building one of those, if they had the schematics
biggrin.gif
However the transformer does have some audiophile "no-no"s built in them ie: electrolytic caps, so YMMV.
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:48 AM Post #8 of 57

D555

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I use the SR-404 with the Stax SRD-7 Pro and use my own amp (Luxman LX33).

Generally, electrostatics are perceived as thin because because of a "lack of bass". This may be heresy but hook the SRD-7 Pro to an integrated with bass controls and that "lack of bass" for electostatic disappears.

Otherwise, vintage Stax SR-X or the SR-40 electrets can provide a sound that is more accessable to those used to the "dynamic" method.

Paul
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:56 AM Post #10 of 57

D555

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tachikoma
I think a few of the DIYers here might be capable of building one of those, if they had the schematics
biggrin.gif
However the transformer does have some audiophile "no-no"s built in them ie: electrolytic caps, so YMMV.



The SRD7 Pro does not use electolytic types -- it has ERO MKP film types throughout.

Paul
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 4:58 AM Post #11 of 57

Lloyd297

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Quote:

Originally Posted by TheSloth
404's can sound thin due to their peaky upper midrange rather than a lack of bass. They have plenty of bass, but instruments can come out slightly nasal and therefore 'thin' due to peaks in some very critical music regions.


Spot-on analysis!
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 6:08 AM Post #12 of 57

Carl

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tachikoma
I think a few of the DIYers here might be capable of building one of those, if they had the schematics
biggrin.gif
However the transformer does have some audiophile "no-no"s built in them ie: electrolytic caps, so YMMV.



I'm amazed that no designer has taken it on themselves to design a better transformer box than the rather so-so ones Stax made. They're an incredibly simple bit of audio engineering, so it's not like it'd take extreme skill to do.


I'm going to have to tackle this problem myself in the coming months. Hopefully I'll be able to find a solution that'll makeme happy.
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 6:15 AM Post #13 of 57

Lloyd297

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl
I'm amazed that no designer has taken it on themselves to design a better transformer box than the rather so-so ones Stax made. They're an incredibly simple bit of audio engineering, so it's not like it'd take extreme skill to do.


Why not just replace the inferior components with better ones?
 
Apr 29, 2006 at 6:21 AM Post #14 of 57

seacard

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jaybar
4040a is tube!

Hold the ear speakers so your ear is centered in the drivers. With your thumbs, pull down the sliders for a snug not. Looser=brighter.

The stax amps are rumored to be very power cord sensitive.

I have not found them to be as full and and punchy as dynamic headphones. The AKG 701's and the HD 650's have much more bass and more midrange presence, which I find somewhat unnatural.

The Stax 404's are a much more cerebral experience. They are thiner, but far more nimble and nuanced than the mid-range dynamics.

The Omega II's are way closer to the tonal balance of the HD 650's. If you like the tonal balnce of the 650's you will be more inclined with the O2's.What is sour souce, IC's and power cord.

Jay



My source is a Meridian 508.24. ICs are Bogdan Silver Spirits. Power cord? Whatever came with the 006tII.
 

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