Need help from Stax users... 101 Questions about Stax.
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dj_mocok

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I have done lots of searches about stax equipments but still got some questions, mainly basic ones... I think there should be a sticky Electrostatic headphones F.A.Q.s here... One of you electrostatic-user guys should volunteer to do that...


Anyway, here goes:

1. I think catscratch leaves his SRM-313 energizer on 24/7 with the 404 connected, is this practice safe? I mean will it overheat or decrease the energizer's lifetime? I know some other users turn theirs off when they are not using it... So what should I do ? (mine is also 313/404 combo)

2. If I'm not mistaken, I read somewhere, even though the energizer is OFF, but if it's still connected to power point, it will still deliver some constant current to the headphones, is this true? Any side effect of this?

3. From those questions above, so If I decide to avoid those, and unplug the headphones and plug it back again when I wanna use it, will this constant plug-unplug activity wear out the headphone jack or the connector on the energizer in the long run? I'm not sure how durable are those...

4. I read some owners of the older version Stax headphones are having difficulties in getting replacement pads, so do you think it's wise for me to get one or two spare replacement pads to use in the future? I don't like the idea of padless headphone...


5. Since I will still use my dynamic headphones, here comes the annoying bit... that means everytime I wanna switch headphones (eg. stax to grado), I have to unplug the RCAs from the energizer and plug them to my dynamic headphone amp, and do that again if I wanna use stax... That will be so troublesome... Can someone recommend me a solution to this that won't degrade sound quality?

6. Can I damage the headphones if I listen to loud volume? Because I read that electrostatic won't be able to produce volume as loud as dynamic cans.

7. Coming from dynamic, is there any other thing that I really need to know/be aware of regarding electrostatics? Or any general ways to maintain/use the system?

Many thanks in advance.
 
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ayt999

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1. and I, at times, leave my Blue Hawaii on 24/7.
a 150W space heater warming up the room 24/7.
I find my Omega-II to sound best after some charge-up of the stators, especially when the headphone hasn't been plugged in for a while. (I don't notice this with the HE90 though....) the stators being charged was a good reason for me to leave it on most of the time, but only when I would be using it. leaving it on 24/7 when you won't use it for a while is pretty silly, and there is less to worry about components malfunctioning, which they could do. the chances are probably pretty low, but every component isn't made to be failproof so there's always that chance. if everything is made properly and used properly... there should be little to worry about with overheating.

a good thing to have in an electrostatic amp (IMO, at least for STAX stuff) is an always-on bias current circuit. I might get one installed later on... wasn't available when I got my amp. then there is no need to keep the amp on 24/7, just some time before listening to get the equipment warmed up, especially if it has tubes.

2. I don't and have never owned an amp manufactured by STAX so I don't know. maybe this is the bias current being applied to the headphone at all times? if so, then I would think that's a good thing... as I've said above.

3. being a bit too paranoid? lol. how many times do you plug and unplug your headphones anyways?

4. uh... sure? you must be making some really long term plans there.

5. the 313 has loop outs.
doubt plugging another pair of IC's between the dynamic amp and the source would do too much.

6. really doubt it. my electrostats get loud enough for me, and that's when the volume knob is only turned halfway or so. you'll probably damage your hearing before the cans.

7. offer a dynamic headphone for sacrifice each day... use it only inside a cleanroom... I don't think there's much difference between a dynamic setup and an electrostatic other than what's already mentioned. you probably shouldn't poke around the amp when it is on though... lots of high voltage stuff in there.
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

150W space heater warming up the room 24/7


Wow... How much is your electricity bill,man ?
Call me tight, but I even replaced the regular bulbs in my apartment with those energy-efficient ones just to save 120W of electricity everytime the lights are on.... Guess KGSS isn't for me then..


Quote:

leaving it on 24/7 when you won't use it for a while is pretty silly, and there is less to worry about components malfunctioning, which they could do.


My listening habit:
Monday-Thursday: Between those, maybe only 1 or 2 days I will listen to headphones, around 1 hour, or less. (If I'm busy, I won't listen at all)
Friday Night: Between 1 to 2 hours.
Saturday Night: Between 1 to 2 hours.
Sunday Night: I might listen for 1 hour or might not.

So do you reckon it's worth it to leave it on?

Quote:

a good thing to have in an electrostatic amp (IMO, at least for STAX stuff) is an always-on bias current circuit. I might get one installed later on... wasn't available when I got my amp. then there is no need to keep the amp on 24/7, just some time before listening to get the equipment warmed up, especially if it has tubes.


So always-on bias circuit = constant charge to headphones even though the amp is off? Can someone confirm whether the SRM-313 has this feature?

Quote:

3. being a bit too paranoid? lol. how many times do you plug and unplug your headphones anyways?
4. uh... sure? you must be making some really long term plans there.


Yeah, this always happen to me when I purchase something a bit costly... (unfortunately I don't have the luxury to be able to afford this without breaking a sweat...
) But yeah, to me those little 5 point connector doesn't look as tough as the regular stereo jack... Maybe they are tougher than I thought?

Quote:

the 313 has loop outs. doubt plugging another pair of IC's between the dynamic amp and the source would do too much.


This might look so dumb, but can someone draw an explanation for this, how to connect all those with no loss of sound quality ?
 
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spritzer

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Ok a lot of questions but here goes.

The SRM-313 draws only 29W and it does sound a lot better when left on so I would recommend it but you should have the headphones under some kind of cover (like the Stax plastic bag) because the bias attracts dust. It is not a big issue but it is nice to have clean and dust free headphones.

The SRM-313 does not supply bias when it is turned off. The old adapters boxes with power supplies were always on devices so they supplied bias constantly but the amps are not.

Well I just bought some Stax SR-Sigma Pro phones that must be at least 10 years old and the plug is in perfect condition so no worries.

The best way to add the Stax system to you’re rig is to connect RCA cables from the cdp to the SRM-313 and using its loop out by plugging another set of rca cables from it to the dynamic amp. CDP -> SRM-313 -> Dynamic amp

The only thing that is a big no no with Stax is not to wear them with wet hair as they might short out. It is a small chance but better safe then sorry.
 
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Snake

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OK, my 0.005 cents:

(1) A lot of people leave Stax energizers on to keep them warmed up and ready. Along with the headphones charging, completing the amp warmup makes for better sound. Stax amps are Class A and definitely sound much better warmed; however, based upon my personal experience this also represents a problem. All the Class A amplifiers (or very high bias A/B) I have ever touched end up bias drifting from the heat, long term, when left on for extended periods. (sigh). A sad but true experience. My Stax amp, the 14S, was no different - I had to send it into repair after about 2 years of continuous power-on status. So, I no longer leave it continuously powered-on. YMMV.

I am going to tell you something, based upon my own experiences. As I think about it, only now, I must say that headphone plate charge seems less important than amp warmup, at least in my system. You can discharge the plates instantly by disconnecting the headphones and touching the pins (all at the same time) flat to your palm. This does not hurt in the least; you feel absolutely nothing, but if you are wearing the phones during this you will hear a faint "pop" as the plates discharge. When I plug the phones back into a warmed-up energizer I must say that the sound is fine almost immediately, maybe given a few moments.

(2) When the amp is off no voltage is supplied. However, when the amp is off, and the headphones stay connected, the headphone's bias charge seems to drain at a decreased rate.

(3)It is indeed possible. Anything wears with usage. Most people leave them plugged in.

(4) It is possible older Stax designs have problems with acquiring pads. However, the Lambda series is 25 years old and their most popular. Pads always seems available, not too mention the fact that the pad material seems quite durable. I think you'll get quite a bit of use out of them before needing replacement.

(5) Daisy chain as per Spritzer. That's why Stax designed their amps with double RCA's.

(6) Yes. You can damage all systems - speakers and headphones - with excessive volumes. In the case of Stax overdriving makes the diaphram touch the stator and burn at that point. I think that must happen at earbleed level because I've never done it myself.

(7) Nope. They'll appear to you simply as a high end can & amp combo. Nothing special except care for those types of products. Don't punish the cord. Don't physically abuse for no reason. Keep amp vented (important - remember, it's Class A). Don't saute or braize. Rinse, repeat. Some scenes not appropriate for small children. This side up.
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

The SRM-313 draws only 29W and it does sound a lot better when left on so I would recommend it but you should have the headphones under some kind of cover (like the Stax plastic bag) because the bias attracts dust. It is not a big issue but it is nice to have clean and dust free headphones.


Hmm... so it's a constant 29W draw? Hmmm... my partner would kill me if she found out that it's pretty much the equivalent of leaving the lights in our apartment on 24/7


I think the best way is, during weekdays, I will leave them off, and just turn it on 1 hr prior listening. And leave it on from Friday til Sunday.

I don't have the proprietary headphone stand and cover, but I already got a stand, and for the cover, I'll just make some sort of cover made from cotton cloth to cover it. Hope it'll do the job.

Now on to the tricky thing...
Quote:

The best way to add the Stax system to you’re rig is to connect RCA cables from the cdp to the SRM-313 and using its loop out by plugging another set of rca cables from it to the dynamic amp. CDP -> SRM-313 -> Dynamic amp


If I setup that connection,
Say, if the energizer is off, will it still deliver the connection to the dynamic headphone amp, or I need to turn on the energizer as well when I wanna listen to my dynamic?

On to cables, that means I have to have another pair of similar cable then?

If not, say, if I have a set of silver ICs connected from CDP to SRM313 and a set of copper ICs from SRM313 to headphone amp, it will mess up the sound, no?

I'm also thinking about whether there will be a loss of sound quality when the connection travel in and out from the output of SRM313 loop-out?
 
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Snake

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
If I setup that connection, Say, if the energizer is off, will it still deliver the connection to the dynamic headphone amp, or I need to turn on the energizer as well when I wanna listen to my dynamic?


No. The double RCA's are permanently connected together with metal bridges internally. Power on, power off, both get the same feed. You will not have to turn the Stax amp on.

Quote:

On to cables, that means I have to have another pair of similar cable then?


Yes, if you desire symmetry on both systems.

Quote:

If not, say, if I have a set of silver ICs connected from CDP to SRM313 and a set of copper ICs from SRM313 to headphone amp, it will mess up the sound, no?


Means that the dynamic amp will (technically) get a sound that is a combination of both IC characters.

Quote:

I'm also thinking about whether there will be a loss of sound quality when the connection travel in and out from the output of SRM313 loop-out?


A valid concern and one I have as well.
 
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spritzer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
I'm also thinking about whether there will be a loss of sound quality when the connection travel in and out from the output of SRM313 loop-out?


Well there is always some loss with every connection but it is minor as long as you use quality connectors.
 
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ayt999

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
Wow... How much is your electricity bill,man ?
Call me tight, but I even replaced the regular bulbs in my apartment with those energy-efficient ones just to save 120W of electricity everytime the lights are on.... Guess KGSS isn't for me then..



the KGSS I think only draws 40 or 50 watts at most, maybe even less. not too different from your amp.

the Blue Hawaii uses much more electricity than the KGSS because each of the four tubes in the Blue Hawaii uses ~20 watts.
 
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