Stax 3030 vs. 4040
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shivohum

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I am considering purchasing either a Stax 3030 or 4040 set, and I am wondering what opinions people have about the differences between the two. Is one better than the other, or is it more that they're simply different? Do the 4040s have that tube warmth? Do the 3030s sound excessively bright? Do either of them ever sound screechy? How are the highs, lows, midrange, and dynamics different on them?

I've already searched the archives here and at Headwize, and looked up reviews on Audioreview...

I've only heard the 4040s for a short while, so I'd especially appreciate feedback from owners or people who have had extensive auditions with either of these headphone sets. Thanks.
 
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wildmonkeysects

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Ok, I have both...and if you are of the genetic predisposition to prefer planars/ribbons/electrostatics, both are good, having that certain hard to describe, well, seductive magic, or mojo, or ongaku. They are a relative bargain at audiocubes. They are comfortable for long listening sessions.

They require a looonnng breakin/burnin, and after that:

The 3030 is not excessively bright, neither are excessively schreechy...unless they are fed same from upstream. They are very chamelion like in that changes in cabling, sources, shelving/isolation under souces, power cables, conditioning to sources are quite audible. As above, they convey the emotional intent of the music well. The bottom end, while not having that last degree of slam/solidity, is quite deep...Pink Floyd's DSOM sounds better than most woofers. Do factor in the expense of upgrading sources, cabling, etc when considering them to offset the reduced expense of having the driver included. Still, I've still enjoyed minidisks with their attendant lssy cmprssn through them...even a brief stint hooked up to a PC's soundcard (Shuttle SS51G) was mostly harmless...possibly excessive or extravagant, but for the most part painless.

The 3030 is a bit more "forgiving" and "lush", the 4040 is more "liquid" and "full".

The 006t driver of the 4040 set is a bit more finicky about clean power than the 313 driver of the 3030 set. The 006t driver has two selectable inputs (nice), one selectable as XLR balanced or single ended RCA (double nice). The 404 cans with the 006t driver is also a choice, if selectable/balanced inputs are not needed. For either, the stock non-shielded, two prong groundless powercord should be replaced with a decent, shielded grounded three prong powercord...not nesc very expensive, just shielded with decent plugs/jacks...DIY is an excellent cost effective option here.

Decisions, decisions...hmmm...in a libran moment I took both for considerably less cash than one Omega. Still waaaay cheaper than toys that float or fly


Enjoy,

WMS
 
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shivohum

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Thanks for the excellent info! Now here's the kicker: which one do you listen to more? Do you listen to a particular pair more for a certain genre, or...how do you decide?

Also, could you elaborate on how "lush" is different from "full"? Thanks.
 
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wildmonkeysects

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Decisions, decisions, which one listened to when is more location based...currently the 4040 is in the office, the 3030 is in a bedroom, but that could change.

For the non-musical genre of holosync listening, (www.centerpointe.com) the 3030s are slightly preferred. For acoustic music, the 4040 is slightly better, for amplified music, the 3030 is a little easier on the ears. But these are subtle distinctions. Both are great for ambient/space/world music. Dunno about country or rap, those genres being too braindead and angry, respectively, for my tastes.

What, you want me to translate subjectivese into amerenglish?

The 3030 "lushness" is somewhat akin to being silky, easy, smooth, possibly taking off some of the rough edges.

The 4040 "fullness" is like when a piano sounds more real, not warmer, just more, well, full; or how the space between and around musical events is more, well, real.

These differences could be very subtle, or annoyingly significant, depending on one's thresholds, or perspective. Is that too libran?
 
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shivohum

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How about for orchestral music? Do you listen to any of that? Overwhelmingly thunderous symphonies...what would you prefer for that?
 
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wildmonkeysects

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With the exception of some of the great Russian composers, most orchestral stuff, while being interesting works of art, and sounding pleasant, just don't do it for me, don't move me...sacreligious I know...I don't dislike it, just it doesn't speak to me. But that could change.

Long answer for, sorry, can't tell you much on that one. Really depends on what your preferences/needs/tastes are.

Maybe AT w1000s would do the trick...if they are a refined w100, there is a good chance that the musical involvement factor would be quite high.

Do you have leanings either way between planars and voice coils?

WMS
 
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shivohum

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WMS, I am definitely looking into electrostats now as I already own the HD600 and W100 and they aren't quite all that I'm looking for (what is?). Thus I am not going to investigate the W1000 for a while...

I did own the Stax Lambda Pros a while ago, and while they were superb in many ways, they did have some rather niggling flaws. Probably the most irritating was a kind of screechines that they got on certain passages with wind instruments or brass... sort of in that frequency range. On a crescendo, things would just sometimes be a little cutting, a little shouty.

Have you experienced any similar phenomena on either of your Staxes? Have they ever offended your ears or been painful to listen to in any way?
 
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wildmonkeysects

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Might be similar to what I experience as macrodynamic compression: things get squished and momentarily hashy/splintery on peaks/crecendos (sp?), such as cymbal crashes.

So far, that has been traced upstream, and does not appear to be the Staxes; it goes away with improvements upstream, such as cheap monolithic opamps doing i/v sans deglitching in the D/A converter tending to suck, to generalize and put it lightly.

Cans like the HD600, for all their other wonderful qualities including that nebulous sense of relaxed ease, tend to be, well, chalky, for lack of better words, on the top end; to my ears this glosses over the above mentioned momentary squishyness on peaks from less than optimal sources, at least compared to good planar drivers such as the Staxes.

Having fun with the decision yet?

If you don't lust for euphonic tube warmth, which I do not hear in the 006t driver, and don't need/want multiple and/or balanced inputs, a good middle ground, also suggested by Kelly, is pairing the 404 cans with the 313 driver.

Enjoy,

WMS
 
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wildmonkeysects

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In a post further above:

[snip]

The 404 cans with the 006t driver is also a choice, if selectable/balanced inputs are not needed

[/snip]

meant 313 instead of 006t...as in the most recent post:

[snip]

...is pairing the 404 cans with the 313 driver.

[/snip]

I's gettin' me a proofreader!
 
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kelly

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In case I've misspoken, which I often do, I've not heard the Stax 404 with the 313 amp. My experience with the 404 has thus far been limited to the 006t and even with that I am currently underqualified to comment at length.

What you say about the HD600 versus the Stax and upstream components does make quite a bit of sense, though.
 
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wildmonkeysects

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Somebody, I thought it was you, had suggested such a combo a while back...

Ahhhh, so modest about qualifications...don't most of us just attempt to state our subjective observations as just that in a *reasonably* safe environment?
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by wildmonkeysects
Somebody, I thought it was you, had suggested such a combo a while back...

Ahhhh, so modest about qualifications...don't most of us just attempt to state our subjective observations as just that in a *reasonably* safe environment?


I think some of us are held more accountable than others. When you get to 3500 posts, see how many enemies you've made. Some folks will always assume the worst about you.


I do like to be clear about what I've heard or not heard because I am so opinionated, though. Someone has a right to be upset with me if I've misrepresented something.

I can guess about how the 404 and 313 would sound together but I'm not near the expert at that as you are. It seems to me that if you had a more limited budget that mixing and matching the amps and phones is one approach to having something upgradable and I think that was Stax' intent. Another might be to take a look at Gilmore's designs if you're handy with a soldering iron or know someone who is.
 
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