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Stax SR-009: Best Headphone Ever Made? - Head-Fi TV, Episode 008

Discussion in 'Head-Fi Network & Industry News' started by jude, Jun 28, 2011.
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  1. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    I tried the Abyss on the Woo mono blocks at RMAF - not planning to buy one.  Sorry, it's not my favorite.  It was ugly, too heavy and stiff, uncomfortable, and bland sounding.  My SR-009 via my upgraded KGBH amp with custom CCS have fantastic bass impact and dynamics, with great tonal balance, detail, soundstage, and imaging.  They excite me in a way that the Abyss could not.
  2. eric65
    What amazes me in this article is to say that the SR-009 is colorful compared to the Abyss, in particular at the frequency of 4-5000 Hz. It would seem on the contrary to me that the Abyss is one can dig at these frequency.
  3. baronkatz
    I completely agree. That is the best headphone I have ever heard in my life and I've listened to and owned quite a few... I just wish I could afford it and I wish that someone made a closed back one that sounded somewhat close to it! 
  4. akhyar
    I've listened to them twice on trade show...
    The only think that stop me from pulling the trigger is that I need to spend the same amount of money on a good amplifier that can make this beauty sings.
  5. r010159
    This reminds me of a discussion that I had with an importer of fine wines. I asked him weather he can tell the difference between one highly rated wine and another. He told me there are people like himself that can, but the difference is so subtle, the wines need to be tasted side-by-side in order to determine the difference.  I then asked him if the price justifies the quality. Here he told me in his opinion it does not.
    So if this is a good analogy, then anyone that can place on supremely expensive headphones and immediately tell it is the best headphones that they have every heard when compared to other top-rated models is IMO making themselves believe this in what is called expectation bias. I think even a side-by-side comparison would prove to be difficult, and only by supremely good, well-trained hearing, who uses the proper source material. And I think this also applies to phones costing a fraction of the price. I challenge anyone that can hear the difference in a blind A/B/X test setup. I will look into this challenge at the next head-fi meet.
    But hey, they may very well be the best phones that are made in the world. But I suggest 99.9% of the people could not tell the difference in proper side-by-side blind testing. But I still do believe there might be a perceptible difference of sorts, and  not necessarily quantifiable as a "better or worse" difference either.
    But what do you guys realistically think about this?
    PS: When the maker of a headphone claims they are the best in the world, a red flag goes up in my mind, my "snake oil" detector.
  6. baronkatz
    When I first tried these, I wasn't sure of the cost or what they were and I immediately liked them. I think that MOST people who have heard the STAX 009's think they are quite amazing, even if they don't think they are the best. It's quite a bit different than wine, it's like comparing the taste of wine to the taste of beer or cognac or scotch whiskey than wines to other wines. ANYONE can tell the difference in taste between those different drinks.
    STAX in general sound different because they are electrostats, in that sense it's more like comparing a fine single malt scotch to a wine or a beer, it's different, and some people like that "refined and rich" taste, but to say that one cannot tell the difference would be absurd. Have you even listened to these headphones and compared them youself? If not how are you even justified to give an opinion? Price has nothing to do with this, they are $5000 because they are handcrafted in Japan, use the best materials, and are electrostatic which already make them more expensive to manufacture, this is regardless of what they sound like. Sure if they made them in China from some cheap plastic, they would be $1000 but that is still not cheap for most people.
    I think the analogy that works best is this: The Stax 009 is like a Lamborghini or Ferrari, excellent to drive, beautiful to behold, handcrafted, etc... It will of course outhandle a mass produced Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The thing is just because not everyone can afford a Lambo or Ferrari doesn't mean that they are not good or snake oil. They handle a million times better than a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, just like the STAX sounds a million times better than a pair of Dre Beats headphones, or even most midrange headphones - IE comparing a BMW 3 series to a Lambo or Ferrari in this sense, etc...
    Unless you're comparing them to another pair of high end, transparent, open-back headphones such as the Audeze LCD-3 vs. Stax 009 then that would maybe be a valid comparison and the difference between them not so great (IE Lamborghini vs. Ferrari). But then the Audeze aren't cheap either at around $2K and the Stax still sound more transparent, rounded, etc... for most people. I haven't met someone who doesn't like them, it's not as polarizing as say Audio Technica's or Beyers or Ultrasones... Some people hate Ultrasones and some love them. I don't like the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 even though it's expensive, it has nothing to do with price, although the best is usually expensive because it uses the best materials and has the highest development costs, etc... 
    P.S. What a maker says is irrelevant but I don't see on their website where it says that they are the best in the world. Did you happen to fetch that out of a hat? The brochure states top of the line, but that's because it's their top of the line model: http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/SR009e.html
  7. r010159
    The makers of the Abyss mad that claim on their pair of headphones. My mistake!
    "Skubinski did not equivocate by saying he hoped to build “one of the finest” headphones, but rather made the unequivocal claim that his would be “the finest headphone” yet produced. "
  8. baronkatz
    I like the STAX 009 a lot more in terms of SQ, design, build, etc... although the price is the same ($5K) the technology is completely different. The Abyss use magneplanar technology similar to the LCD3's so it's more on that league, and although they sound better than the LCD3s they don't sound nearly as good as the STAX 009. I also think the Abyss are the ugliest headphones I have ever seen, that square headband and crudeness of look reminds me of a torture device from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein or something that would fit well on the set of the Munsters or Adams Family. Not only are they ugly but they are uncomfortable.
    If they were really trying to build the "finest headphone yet produced" I think they would have paid more attention to the design, to the materials, comfort, and so many other things like STAX, Audeze, Beyer, and Ultrasone did. Finest = finesse as well, not only crude aesthetics with good sound, IMHO.
  9. zachchen1996
    LCD3's can't touch the SR009's in my opinion
    baronkatz likes this.
  10. SoupRKnowva
    Yeah, comparing headphones is nothing like comparing wine. The analogy would work ally better for dacs or amps, though even then it's not quite right.

    Honestly anyone would easily be able to tell the difference between a 009 and even a HD800 or HE-6, which tonally are most similar I would say to the 009...
    baronkatz likes this.
  11. AnakChan Moderator
    I dunno, I still can see how the wine analogy works. Comparing different brands of headphones is analogous to comparing Cabernet Sauvignon to Pinot Noir for a real obvious example. Maybe even go as far as comparing the same blend but from different regions. Whereas the DAC/Amp could be comparing the same blend from the same but different years.
    OK not a perfect analogy.
  12. eric65
    Even Frankeistein, with his big head, would be unfortunate for wear a such headphone (rigid) not exceeding 2 cm in the amplitude of the head width. [​IMG]
    Range of adjustment of the width of the JPS Abyss (rigid headphone) headphone head: 2 cm
    Variability of the measurements of the width of the human head in adults: 7 cm (12, 5-19, 5 cm)
    (http://www.ifth.org/innovation-textile/upload/Image/IFTH_DossierdePresse_Mensurations_Adultes.pdf: page 24)
    Conclusion: better to not have a big head (or small) for wear the Abyss!
  13. eric65
    Hi all.
    Should fear, in the short term, that the Stax SR-009 headphone become corny and be exceeded by the competition (Abyss in mind) to become old-fashioned? (NB: Arnaud seems to fear [​IMG]​) ?
    So, if we want that Stax continues to produce one of the best headphones in the world (if not the best), what could we wish to the Stax Enterprise for future headphone high end, successor to the best seller 009 (in his high-end uncompromising class), if one day a successor was?
  14. AnakChan Moderator
    I'm not sure if the Abyss is really in competition to the SR-009. Reading posts from people who have experienced both some still like the SR-009 whilst others like the Abyss and some like both.
  15. elton7033
    you really makes me wanna try out the abyss now and see how well it does compare to my other cans. and i never even see a abyss in shop yet.
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